By Humphrey Carter
WORLD Jump Champion Eddie Kidd used to think of nothing but the death-defying feat at hand when zooming up the ramp for one if his 12'000 professional jumps. Today, however, he has to think about walking.

Eddie Kidd, The Black Knight, was England's answer to Evel Knievel, it was in fact a film about the America stunt rider starring George Hamilton that decided Eddie's fate when he was just 12. “I came out of the cinema and I knew what I wanted to be,” he said yesterday while enjoying the Majorcan sunshine.
He admits his father was not that interested in his idea at first, but he started doing jumps on his pushbike and by the age of 14, was being paid five pounds a day for performing with a local stunt team.

And just four years after seeing the Knievel film, he set a new junior world record when he won the championship by jumping over eight buses. In 1975, when aged just 17, he attempted 13 double deckers buses but clipped the last one. But he only suffered a dislocated shoulder and, as Eddie Kidd went on to be an inspiration, not only in the UK, but to millions across the world and his career literally took off - he never broke a bone in his 12'000 jumps.

He was the first and only stunt rider to jump the Great Wall of China and in the same year, 1993, beat Robbie Knievel over a 200 foot distance, to win the World Jump Championship, a title he still holds to this day. He was also in big demand from the film directors and doubled for Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye, Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights and has worked with other leading actors including Harrison Ford. “It was me who made Pierce look so good,” he laughs.

However, tragedy struck on August 5, 1996 when he suffered a crash which put an end to his jumping career and has left him wheelchair-bound ever since.
The accident happened at the Bulldog Bash - all he had to do was clear a 17 yard jump over a speeding drag car.
But he says his landing ramp had not been built as he asked. “They still had not got it right when I turned up for the jump, but there were 20'000 people in the crowd, I wasn't going to let them down. Everyone was telling me not to jump,” he said.

Every jump is still etched in his mind, he used to prepare them so thoroughly that, by the time he actually made the jump, he had done it time and time again in his head. He still clearly remembers what happened on that day in 1996. “The landing ramp was set at an incline, normally I use my legs for added suspension. I cleared the jump perfectly, but as I came down, my legs could not take the weight and I smashed my chin on the petrol tank - there was a lot of blood. But that was not the problem. At the top of the ramp, my run-off and safety area had not been built and I went straight over the edge and down a 20 foot gap. “I landed on my head, broke my pelvis, collar-bone and six vertebrae in my neck... and bugger me, only two weeks ago the doctors told me I also broke my back in two places. “I was in a coma for three months and the doctors wanted to turn me off, but thankfully my parents would not have anything of it,” he says.
The damage to his brain knocked out his sense of balance and affected his speech.
Tragic yes, but not by far the end of Eddie's world. “I honestly thought I was invincible. I never thought about the risk, if I had done, I would never have done any of the jumps,” he said. “But you can't keep a good man down and I'm determined to walk again, and then get back on a motorbike,” he added.
He has recently started appearing riding a quad bike in a new stunt show he organises with Jason Finn and he is currently working on a new stunt show for freestyle Team Kidd/Finn which he plans to eventually bring out to Majorca.

In fact, and he will never admit it to his nurses, whenever he can, he leaps onto one of his two quad bikes, looked after by DK Racing, at home. “I've had a few tumbles, one is a 440cc and bloody fast, but I can't tell the nurses,” he laughs.
He also likes bunjee jumping and when invited down to the set of the last Harry Potter film they wired him up and flew him around the studio “I didn't have a broom with me,” he jokes.

He is an inspiration to many people in a similar situation, he admits he can't sit still for long, and dedicates a great deal of time to helping children with Leukemia along with the likes of Vinnie Jones, Frank Bruno and Gary Linneker. “We're all good mates and often get together to raise funds for the kids,” says the man who is spurred on by the ambition to walk, ride bikes and jump buses again.


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