Evel Knievel became one of America’s most iconic figures during the 1960s and 70s. With his outrageous stunts, hard-living lifestyle and distinctive patriotic fashion sense, he was seen by many to epitomise the American dream.
A boy, who had grown up in the poor backwoods town of Butte, Montana, who had gone on to become famous globally. Not only for his bravery but also for his spectacular crashes. Knievel himself once said, "Nobody wants to see me die, but they don't want to miss it if I do".
As a result, millions would tune in to ABC’s Wide World of Sport to watch his exploits and his Ideal Toys range, including the famous Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, was said to have grossed over $300 million in sales.
Despite his enduring legend, however, there are still many lesser-known stories about his life that still defy belief to this day.
In 1977, whilst recuperating from a failed jump, Knievel became aware of an upcoming book ‘Evel Knievel on Tour’ written by Sheldon Saltman, the promotor of Knievel’s disastrous Snake River Canyon stunt.
The book alleged that Knievel was abusive towards his family, was an alcoholic and also an anti-Semite.
Knievel then decided to fly California to confront Saltman and once arriving, with both arms still in casts, proceeded to viciously attack him with an aluminium baseball bat shattering the bone in one of Saltman’s arms and rendering him unconscious.
For his actions, Knievel was sentenced to 6 months in county jail and was also given 3 years probation. He remained unrepentant however, arranging for himself and his fellow prisoners to be transported to-and-from their work release programmes in chauffer driven limousines.