Just after the turn of the century there was a new force in Sydney city skateboarding. This was during an era where two main city spots were sessioned: New Old (aka Cannonball) and Martin Place. There were murmours of a wee lad who was plummeting off things twice his size. Oh and did he have tricks. He had tricks for days. He was learning new ones at a rate steeper than the great real estate spike of 2000. He was as deft with switch as regular... and yeah he was fearless. The first people I heard mention him were photographer Guy Miller, Davo (Michael Davidson) and Skunk (Jeff Williams). These guys were always pretty good at spotting rippers, so I kept my eye out for him and soon enough I too was aware of the force present in the mini package known as Chima Ferguson. You can fast forward to 2013 and Chima is a household name, and quite rightfully so, he is one of the gnarliest skateboarders that has ever lived. His upcoming Vans part will only solidify his name in the infamous 'Hall of Gnarlers'.
I asked Jeff Williams if he was in fact the first guy to 'spot him': “…I wouldn’t say I 'spotted' him, but I did see him as a grom, skating hard when his mates were just messing around. I was in my lounge room at my parent’s house and I looked over the road into the school just seeing who was skating over there. It was Bass Hill Public School. His mates used to set bins on fire etc, so I was off his crew. But, I saw he had the determination and I knew he had potential. I can spot talent a mile away, and his was pretty obvious.”
When it came to a Flashback featuring Chima, one of the first pieces of print evidence that came to mind was his ‘identity’ (check out) in the now defunct Australian Skateboarding Magazine (ASM). There was this one Curtis Mah sequence of an ollie death plummet, which was at least a storey high. Chima was pre-teen! Sure it was no distance ollie, but through this sequence alone Chima proved that he had at least a couple of knee joints per leg, or at least some kind of inbuilt shock absorbing system on board. Those legs have since gone on to prove that they sure are some kind of a phenomenon. Once I dug it up there was not only the sequence that I had remembered but also an absolutely perfect kickflip down the Martin Place ten. Pop, poise, perfection.
Guy Miller’s words to accompany the photos were: “When you first meet Chima you notice his small size and quiet demeanor. Then he steps on a skateboard and just goes to work. Once I remember we were skating around the city trying to get photos. Chima needed to get home to faraway Bankstown (The same neck of woods as Jeff Williams). He proceeded to backside 180 and kickflip the ten stairs at Martin Place in the space of two minutes. He smiled and said he had to get going and vanished...If Chima keeps progressing at the rate he is now he will be one of the best skaters to ever come out of Australia. He’s also a great kid who has one of the best attitudes ever. Keep it up Chima, you can take it all the way”
Later (in 2004) Chima was featured in his first proper ASM interview. The opening spread features a great portrait by Andrew Peters and a morphed sequence of a nollie flip, again down the Martin Place set. You can see by the micro-shapes in this sequence that he is a mere urchin compared to the statuesque, lanky ripper he is today. Check the technique and catch: flawless… and that secret second knee joint again helping out with the roll away.
Sean Holland speaks of putting the ASM interview together and how he came across the portrait. “This 14-year-old school kid came in with a bunch of photos. I told him I loved the Chima portrait and that we were going to run it with his interview. The kid was stoked but at that moment he got up and ran toward the door. ‘Oh mate…sorry, I have to go... I left my trumpet in the cinema!’ That was Andrew Peters, and that Chima portrait is the first thing he ever had published!”
For more on Chima check out his interview on this here site: "Everyone was all about being fresh back then. I had no money, so seeing everyone with fresh Axions 'n' Wu Tang boards mad me hungry. The usual spots like Martin Place n Cannonball were a given on any weekend".