One of Thailand’s first professional skateboarders, Geng Jakkarin is getting international recognition, most recently at a Converse-sponsored tour in China. Here he tells us about grinding his way onto the international scene, the sacrifices he has had to make and the broken bones along the way.
You’re on a hot streak right now.
Well, this year has been a really good year for me. I got signed with Billabong and Converse this year. They help me out a lot.
When did you first turn pro?
In 2005, I got my first pro model with Preduce at the same time their Siam Square shop opened. It was amazing. Preduce set up a party at a really good night club, and all the skaters from Thailand came over. [Lert Saeri] and [Tao Kitpullap] popped champagne and gave me my first pro model decks. It was such an honor. We were the first pros in Thailand.
What’s it like skateboarding in Bangkok?
It’s tough because there’s security everywhere, and the sidewalks are hard to walk on, let alone skate on. Plus there are barely any parks, but we know what we gotta do. We wanna learn new things everyday so we gotta skate. That’s the skater spirit. You skate the street and you make it happen.
What did your family think about you becoming a professional skateboarder?
When I told my mom that I really wanted to go for it and skate and go to contests, she didn’t understand. Back then, I had a sports scholarship playing basketball, and she wanted me to keep doing that so I could pay for school. It took a lot of explaining, but she let me do it. These days, she’s accepted it. She’s surprised that skateboarding has taken me so many places.
Have you ever broken any bones?
Yeah I popped out my elbow two months ago in Nay Pi Daw in Myanmar. It was really crazy. There’s nothing much there, not even a hospital. We called somebody and he drove me around for like two hours to meet a guy with a sarong, and no x-ray machine, nothing. He gave me an injection and scribbled out a map. He couldn’t speak English or Thai. I broke my elbow at 5pm and finally got to a hospital at 10pm.
What’s the best part of being sponsored?
I feel like I made it. I travel to see different parts of the world, meet different people all the time. What can I say? I make money to live and do what I love.
Would you have the same life if you didn’t skate?
I don’t think so. If I keep playing basketball, I don’t think I’d have a chance to see Myanmar and Vietnam the same way. There’s not going to be basketball tournaments there for sure. It’s something real. Skateboarders everywhere are like a big family. Wherever I go, I have a place to stay.