Since getting on the back of his first dirt bike at the age of 8, Ronnie Faisst has been obsessed with pushing the limits of himself and his motorcycle.
Faisst is a member of the Nuclear Cowboyz’s Metal Mulisha, a traveling band of freestyle motocross (FMX) riders that tours the world putting on demos and shows. As one of the sport’s pioneers — he finished 11th in the first-ever freestyle motocross event held in Las Vegas in 1998 — Faisst has helped corral the self-proclaimed bad-boy bikers in his troupe while also expanding the reach of his personal brand, which now includes a clothing line.
The FMX veteran brings his high-flying act to the Blaisdell Arena for the Extreme Freestyle Moto-X event Sunday. Ryan Hagy, Jimmy Hill and Jimmy Fitzpatrick — fellow members of the Metal Mulisha — also are scheduled to perform in the event along with headliner Faisst, who will lead the riders in a choreographed show involving jumps, flips and tricks that, as event promoter Li Cobian puts it: "makes Cirque du Soleil look like amateurs!"
Faisst claimed a bronze medal at last month’s X Games 16 at Staples Center in Los Angeles during the Moto X Speed & Style event. The result, however, was a surprise to the rider, who originally thought he had missed out on a shot at the hardware, and was not even present for the medal ceremony.
The 33-year-old Faisst, a native of Mays Landing, N.J., was in his hotel room when ESPN officials called and notified him of their error. In the event, which combines tricks with racing a set course, Faisst was under the impression that he had finished out of the top three and left disappointed. But, officials decided that they had waved the checkered flag signifying the race’s completion one lap too soon, and awarded Faisst the bronze medal along with Metal Mulisha teammate Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg.
|» What: Extreme Freestyle Moto-X
» When: 3 p.m. Sunday, doors open 2 p.m.
» Where: Neal Blaisdell Arena
» Tickets: $20 general admission, $30 loge level, $40 floor level, $10 children. Tickets available at the Blaisdell box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
"Me and Twitch went head-to-head for the bronze medal in one of the X Games’ best events," Faisst said. "Whether I’m competing or doing a show, I always throw down everything I have to give the fans the best show possible."
The medal provided a positive benchmark in what has been an eventful 11 months for Faisst. The rider, who is known for his devout Christian faith and using his celebrity to spread positive messages, was arrested last October in Las Vegas for domestic violence stemming from reports that he choked and beat his ex-girlfriend following an awards show. While he admits to erring in judgment, Faisst has focused on improving his character, and using his occupation to reach an ever-expanding audience.
"That was a fight with my ex-girlfriend. … I pulled her out of a nightclub, and you can’t do that, so I spent the night in jail," Faisst said. "We all make mistakes, we’re not perfect. They need to make me a shirt that says: ‘Under Construction.’"
Sunday’s event will serve as the culmination of more than 12 years of work put in by Cobian to bring a big-time motocross event to the Blaisdell.
In addition to working through the daunting permitting and insurance procedure that comes with hosting such a risk-filled sport, Cobian also had to deal with building the large, expensive equipment, including a metal ramp that cost upwards of $70,000, as well as booking riders from a pool of roughly 50 professional FMX competitors around the world.
"When I first started (the process), they said, ‘You want to do what? You’re out of your mind!’" Cobian said. "Twelve years later, I knew it would come around. What these guys do is borderline insanity. But, it’s an art form."