Diego Oliveira was born and raised in a rough neighbourhood of San Pablo, Brazil. He has seen many good and bad things throughout his short life and skateboarding was his way out of it. Here we have his interview with one of the heaviest video parts we have had so far.
Tell us the story of your initiation in skateboarding?
I was, like, nine years old; and I used to watch a friend skate in the street in front of my house and I would ask him all the time to borrow his board. One day he hooked me up with a used one.
Did you used to look up to the pro’s of the time?
When I was young I used to go to the pro events to watch them ripping- or even if I went to a skatepark and there was a pro, I would just sit and watch, transfixed. Even nowadays if there is anyone killing it, I stop to watch… but nowadays I feel that glamour of watching a pro doesn´t exist anymore. I feel that the young guys want to show to the old G's that they are better. Especially in São Paulo, there is not too much respect for history.
You based your career on contests but nobody hates on you like a lot of other guys that just focus on being number one at events…
I never focused just on being the champion: I try to talk with everyone at the event, be cool with the locals, have good times. Contests are not the place to practice, you’re supposed to do your tricks and wait for the results. Of course everyone- including me- wants to win the big prize.
Tell me about your first Euro trip.
It was in 2004; I was seventeen. It was a big experience because I skated with guys that I used to see on videos like Tom Penny, Mark Appleyard, Javier Sarmiento. I entered in Montpellier, Dortmund and Prague and got into the finals at each- it was really fun.
Then you went back the next year?
Yeah, in 2005 it was a crazy trip because I had no money at all! My sponsors at that time delayed my money and I had to borrow from my friends. I remember that the last contest was in Prague I got second and had to re- pay them all and went back to zero cash again! It was really fun, ‘cause I started and ended the trip with no money but I survived a month!
Then in 2008 you won Copenhagen Pro, right?
Danilo Cerezini won and I got second place and won the Best Trick and Cerezini got second! It was pretty fun…after that Koston came to try (and) have a conversation but I didn't understand what he said, he gave me some beer and repeated the same words a couple times but I didn't get it and he got nervous with me… sorry man!
Well, you just dropped a rail part for us. How is skating rails in Brazil?
It's really hard because they are never perfect! Sometimes the landing is not so good, sometimes the ground is rough. We searched a lot to find good ones. I like to skate rails. I'm not a super technical guy so this is what I do best.
So why have you never been to LA to skate all those perfect rails?
I don't know, man… I did have sponsorship opportunities in the past but I just decided to stay in Brazil. I hope I can go to LA soon.
How can skateboarding be used as a social tool?
In my neighbourhood it’s very complicated: in the ghetto you do not have too many options. You study or you start to go to a wrong way. I had a lot of friends that got involved with the wrong things; some died and some were arrested. I'm very thankful to God because I have skateboarding in my life and never got involved in crime. I can travel with skateboarding, visit other countries, meet a lot of people. Skate can save a lot of young guys from the ghetto.
Having a solid family can help too...
Definitely. Family is very good cause when you are young you just want to skate all day every day and don't worry about anything else… come back home and go to a party. Just skate, party and bullshit. Being a father changed my mind; my love, my feelings, the responsibility. Dieguinho is almost three and I have so much fun with him, we go to the skatepark and he asks me to drop in with him.
Has he ever asked you to put it down on a rail together?
Not yet (laughs).