Calvin Ligono is a skateboarder sponsored by New Balance who lives in London. He’s well travelled and consistently upbeat but we’re not just talking about his personality and skating. After finding out he’s lived in Africa, America, and the North and South of England and witnessing his ability to pop on and over stairs, ledges, gaps and ramps, with unique powerful style, it all pushed us to learn more about him.
So we got in touch and gave him a call to ask him to join The No Comply Network
He was down and so we had a chat about where he’s been on his board, what he’s been up to lately and what he has in store for the future.
Here’s our conversation about his skating on both sides of the Atlantic as a kid, finding inspiration from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater secret tapes, Africa, America, skating at Pulaski, the UK, Rotherham, Sheffield, meeting Faro Phiri, going to Dev Green, Slugger Skate Store, shooting skate clips with Martin Kenelley, Ravenous, filming his Oreo part, making big moves in London, Wayward, Edson, Snowy, hanging with Hold Tight Henry, localising SB with Twiggy, Mark Baines, New Balance, Tom Knox, Portugal, his key to proper technique on Frontside Noseblunts and his favourite tricks, spots, skate videos and much more
Calvin, Nollie Hardflip St Pauls: Shot by Leo Sharp
What’s your full name?
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and I lived there until I was about four or 5 years old.
I lived in Washington DC until I was 12 but spent most of my high school years in a small town next to Sheffield called Rotherham.
Right now I’m living in London – The Big Smoke!
Sick. So, when did you first see skateboarding?
I used to watch the X Games a bunch when I first moved from Kenya and thought everything was cool because you don’t really get exposed to that shit in Africa.
But in my head skateboarding was in the same ‘extreme’ category as like Motocross or whatever.
It wasn’t until I played Tony Hawk‘s Underground that I saw skateboarding though this raw, gritty skate rat influenced lens.
That whole vibe of seeing skateboarding in the streets, raw and uncut, mixed with graffiti hip hop culture was toooo ill.
I must have been 7 or 8 and used to watch all the in game videos for hours.
I learned to skate behind my old school in Washington, D.C.
I used to hang out with a bunch of older kids once I started skating.
Then on Go Skate day 2008 they were like “yeah were gonna go downtown and skate Pulaski, there’s gonna be a huge event, you should pull up.”
I was 11 and definitely wasn’t allowed to go all the way downtown on my own so obviously I lied to my mum and went anyways haha.
After that it was a wrap. I spent the whole summer going to Pulaski everyday!
At that age it was surreal, seeing people like Darren Harper or Bobby Worrest skate everyday, graffiti culture, random crackheads buggin, Hip Hop culture, learning to grind the ledges at Pulaski meeting new heads.
To this day my mum has no idea I was downtown getting chased by feds at Pulaski when I was eleven haha.
Why did you move from the US to the UK?
My parents got back together and my dad was living in London when they were separated.
I was starting to get into a bit of trouble and I guess my mum thought it might be better for me to grow up in a country where the justice system isn’t as fucked as America so she decided we move to the UK, instead of my dad moving to the states.
For sure. Your Subway 9 Hardflip is dope. How long did that one take?
Thanks G. The nollie or normal one?
The regular one
The one Reece filmed on his phone was maybe 3rd go?
What about the Nollie Hardflip?
And maybe no more than 10 for the nollie hard? Can’t really remember
What’s your favourite trick you’ve seen down the 9?
Joe Mark’s Switch Front Heel down it in the Adidas Big Push 2011. No doubt.
Cool.So, when and why did you move to London?
I moved back to London July 2019. At the time I was skating for Wayward and was coming through a lot more often.
Every time I left I found myself wanting to come back.
Skating here is fast paced, you can go spot to spot all day,and there seems to be more events down here that I fuck with.
I get bored kinda easy and the city is always changing,so everything just made sense.
I was going through some other shit in my life so I basically said fuck it, packed a suitcase and some boards and moved down with £40 in my bank account and tried to see how long I’d last.
Sick, that’s amazing you just went for it like that
Another reason that made me stay, that I only realised maybe a year after being here was the presence of black skateboarders. Not saying there aren’t black skateboarders elsewhere in the UK.
I’ll skate with anyone as long as there safe, regardless of race but it’s refreshing being at a spot, looking around and every skateboarder there is black. That’s something I for sure never experienced in the UK.
Snowy and Edson who run Wayward are legends. What’s your favourite thing about Wayward?
Snowy and Edson were always super accommodating. I’ll always appreciate and remember that. Clicked real well with the rest of the team too.
I stopped skating for Wayward early last summer but we ended on good terms and still say what’s up and jam together when we see each other which is banging and how it should be. Those two are the homies for real!
What’s your favourite Snowy trick?
Snowy’s Wallie Back 3 at SB is tooo ill!
You also skate for New Balance how did you get on?
I was getting Adidas for a while after Oreo came out. I lived in Manchester at the time and Adidas was focusing more on the London scene, so not much was happening plus I didn’t have any plans on moving to London at the time.
I had known Mark Baines for a while and he mentioned riding New Balance a few times and told me to keep it in mind. Baines had mentioned he would be down to try and get me involved with what they had planned. I spoke to him, he sent me some shoes to try and they skated banging! I was on board from then.
How was that New Balance trip to Portugal?
Portugal trip was real good. Was my first time visiting mainland Europe and going on a legit skate trip.
Definitely had cold feet a bit but was banging to see all the heads smash it.
What’s your favourite Tom Knox trick?
That line where he Heelflips the street driveway, Backside 360’s down the stairs straight to Front Board on the brick ledge is fucked!!
Gone on any other trips you were stoked on?
Covid made sure that wasn’t possible for me haha, I might try and go on some anyways this year…Fuck it let’s see.
You’ve got a dope Nollie Hardflip. Who’s got your favourite?
Thanks G, Kareem Campbell no doubt! NA KEL Smith has got a good one too.
I been skating a bunch to be honest. Really just trying to stay productive and healthy.
Trying to work on my body, Korahn Gayle got me into that shit heavy!
I also do this online university course which gives my brain something to do.
How did that Nollie Hardflip at SB down the 7 right in front of security go down? Looked amazing
Oh yeah I remember that session. I got there and skated for like 5 minutes and I was gonna cut, I was so over it.
Twiggy must’ve pulled up so I just decided to stay a bit longer and he pulled out the table and we started skating over it.
He got me gassed to try the trick for sure. SB security guards were just bugging to be honest.
Some trivial shit, I don’t know I wasn’t really trying to hear it. But I kinda fuck with the seccy presh.
You’ve filmed sick tricks with Hold Tight Henry what was it like filming with him?
Yeah I filmed a trick with Hold Tight Henry for his Overcroft edit. He was real chill and safe. Think it was the first time I met him. He knew exactly what he wanted, how to film it, where it was going to be in the edit etc.
You skate with Cameron Gooden AKA Twiggy, a lot, what’s your favourite thing about Twiggy’s skating?
I think there are two types of skateboarders. People who can do tricks and people who are good at skating!
Twiggy‘s got tricks for sure but you can just watch him cruise around going real fast and make it look dope without doing a single ‘trick’ which not many people can get away with! That bredda’s good at skating!
I’d rather watch Twiggy bomb around SB mach 10 wallieing and sliding than see someone try a really tech trick for 3 hours hoping to just fall on the board eventually.
What’s the key to great Frontside Nosebluntslides?
Definitely load up the weight on the front leg. Make sure to turn the board a full 45 degrees too.
I like skating it a lot more now since working at a bowl. I ain’t the best at it but the shit’s fun.
You and Faro are good mates, how did you meet ?
Me and Faro met when he was in Sheffield for Uni.
I was a little younger than him and he was another black skateboarder killing it!
I gave credit where it was due of course. I’m pretty sure he messaged me asking if I wanted to skate for Ravenous after Kenelley mentioned it. We used to just go out skating all the time, roasting each other and try to learn tricks and shit.