Ink Tone Swep Images Steven Lippman, Garth Milan, & Ashley Barker Location Minneapolis, MN & San Clemente, CA
For five time X Games gold medalist Letícia Bufoni, living the dream isn’t simply positive mantra in the form of daily affirmation – it’s her reality. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, the energetic and active Bufoni played outside – all day long – with friends who were mostly boys. As skateboarding emerged in South America and grew in popularity, she instantly gravitated to the street sport. “I grew up in the street playing sports all the time,” she begins, further explaining that, “We didn’t have computers, no smart phones. All of the kids started skating so I did, too.”
By the age of 14 Bufoni’s talent, drive, hyper competitive nature, and true love for the sport all combined to qualify her for the 2007 X Games in Los Angeles. She didn’t win, but the trip proved pivotal for Bufoni’s career as her decision to remain in LA to pursue skateboarding full-time now arrived as more foregone conclusion and natural progression than a tomboy phase escalated delusion of grandeur, as her father initially thought.
“My dad broke my board so I wouldn’t skate anymore,” the 26-year-old shares, remembering. “I started when I was 9-years-old (and) I was skating with all the guys in my neighborhood, and he was mad at me because I was the only girl in the middle of 10 guys,” Bufoni continues, adding: “He smashed my board in front of me and said – ‘You’re not skating anymore, ever again!.’”
Ironically, while skating and networking in LA days after her impressive ’07 X Games performance, it was Bufoni’s father who gave her his parental approval to remain in the U.S. – sunny SoCal, no less – and chase her dreams. So Bufoni enrolled into Sunset Boulevard’s infamous Hollywood High School, where many a starlet rose to prominence – actress Leighton Meester and R&B singer Brandy Norwood among them. After making the move, however, Bufoni found the balancing act of a student athlete to be a regular scheduling conflict. Something had to give.
“Skateboarding was my job and I had to miss school. I couldn’t go every day. I was traveling a lot, filming a lot and skating every day,” Bufoni explains. “My dad put it like this, ‘When you are 40-years-old, you can go to school. But you probably can’t skate when you are 40. So, enjoy the moment, do your best now, and go back to school later if you ever need to.” As a precociously gifted teen mature beyond her years, Bufoni had officially made the move to full-time professional athlete. In time, the tough decision proved to be good for her – and Great for skateboarding – as Bufoni’s global appeal and winning ways helped elevate the game to another level.
Bufoni’s power move, as cat-quick as her skate trick instincts and on-deck reflexes, proved prophetic. Here we are nearing the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo and skateboarding is a competitive category for the first time. The Serena Williams of skateboarding, Bufoni is one of the most influential action sport stars in the world. Four years in a row she was voted the #1 women’s street skateboarder by the reputable World Cup of Skateboarding, which landed her in the Guinness Book of World Records.
In 2013, Bufoni was ESPY nominated in the Best Female Action Sports Athlete category. She was featured in ESPN Magazine’s “The Body Issue” and won at the first Women’s SLS Super Crown World Championships in Chicago. Last year, Forbes named the superstar athlete to its Most Powerful Women In International Sports list, and also to its Sports Pro Media’s list for The World’s Most Marketable Athletes. Bufoni is currently the athlete representative for World Skate, the International Olympic Committee-recognized governing body for Skateboarding.
Bufoni could not have emerged at a more important time for women’s sports, the skateboarding industry, and action athletics in general. Joining fellow Brazilian Neymar – a star soccer player – as perhaps the most recognizable Latin millennials headlining sports growing in global popularity, Bufoni’s fun yet fiercely competitive personality, sexy girl-next-door persona, and long list of accomplishments in a male dominated sport, screams feminism and girl boss empowerment without Bufoni saying a word. 🤫