Breakdancing pioneer Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, who as leader of the US hip-hop group Rock Steady Crew is widely credited with turning the craze into a global phenomenon, has hailed its prospective inclusion in the Olympic Games.
Breakdancing has been confirmed as one of four sports, along with surfing, climbing and skateboarding, which will be put forward to the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the Paris 2024 Games.
It follows the successful introduction of breakdancing at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires last year, for which Colon, a 53-year-old from The Bronx in New York, was invited to be a part of the judging panel.
Colon told Press Association Sport: “This is about two worlds coming together. They each have their own history and I think that we can carefully do this in a manner that is respectful to the essence of both.
“The dance represents many people who come from struggle and have nothing, and now that has translated into an opportunity to see the world, to compete and, most importantly, to build bridges between cultures and break down stereotypes.”
Colon was a founding member of the Rock Steady Crew in 1977 and helped it develop from what was initially a New York sub-culture into a style which was recognised and copied around the world.
The group’s major UK hit, ‘(Hey You) The Rocksteady Crew’ reached number six in the charts in October 1983.
“I was brought in as one of the judges in Argentina and as you are watching the kids getting their medals, you kind of start to feel a little bit emotional,” added Colon.
“You suddenly realise, ‘holy smoke, this thing that I helped to contribute towards in its early days is now on such a platform’.
“Back in 1984 we couldn’t have fathomed something like this. We were still in our own little world of our own. Sure, we would go on tour but we would always go home to the ‘hood and we were very protective of the thing we created.
“When you come from not having anything and you see that thing grow into a worldwide phenomenon, it is breathtaking and a little bit humbling all at the same time.”
Colon remains the president and the only remaining founder member of the ‘Rock Steady Crew’, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Still renowned as the leading figure in ‘breaking’ – as it is expected to be known at the Games – he travels the world and is due to visit the UK in April to judge the 2019 UK B-Boy Championships.
Paco Boxy, director of the British Breaking League which organises competitions across the UK, told Press Association Sport: “I think it’s fantastic news, not only for the young generation but also for the credibility of breakdancing to be classed as a sport.
“A lot of people will look at breakdancing as just spinning on your head or doing the worm, but the people that I know train like athletes. They go to the gym swimming, train every day. It will always be a dance first and foremost, but it has turned into a sport.
The selection of the four sports by the Paris organising committee brings bad news for squash and karate, the latter of which will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.
A statement from World Karate Federation president Antonio Espinos read: “Our sport has grown exponentially over the last years and we still haven’t had the chance to prove our value as an Olympic sport since we will be making our debut as an Olympic discipline in Tokyo 2020.
“Over the last months we have worked relentlessly, together with the French Federation, to achieve our goal of being included in Paris 2024. We believed that we had met all the requirements and that we had the perfect conditions to be added to the sports programme. However, we have learned today that our dream will not be coming true.”
In a joint statement, the World Squash Federation and PSA World Tour said: “The proposed list of four sports only, of which three sports are already confirmed by the IOC on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic programme, leads to a belief that Paris 2024 and the IOC favoured sports already in the Olympic programme, leaving practically no opportunity for other sports.
“The unity that our sport enjoys globally is exceptional and is getting stronger by the day. WSF and PSA are supported by the entire squash community and, with our athletes at the forefront, have run a strong campaign that respected the timeline and the criteria set by Paris 2024 and the IOC.
“During the campaign, we showed that squash has a vibrant and real forward-looking programme rooted in constant innovation, which strives for more inclusiveness and sustainability, youth engagement and equality across all of our activities in and outside of the court.”