Who Is Nik Wallenda?

Nik Wallenda Niagara crossing

Nik Wallenda just completed one of the most amazing acrobatic feats, successfully walking on a wire across the Little Colorado river near the Grand Canyon without a safety net.

Millions viewed the live feed on Sunday as the 34-year-old daredevil and stunt man carefully, but surely moved inch by inch across the wire, holding on to a pole for balance.

But who is this man who has fascinated the world in the last few days?

Wallenda is a seventh generation member of a family of circus performers known as The Flying Wallendas, who were also known as The Great Wallendas.

His nickname is King of the Wire and he holds several Guiness World Records including being the first person to walk across the Niagara Falls on tightrope on June 15, 2012.

He made his professional tightrope walking debut when he was 13 and decided on a high-wire walking career 1998, after joining family members in a seven-person pyramid on the wire.

In 2001, Nik Wallenda was part of the world’s first eight-person high-wire pyramid and continued to perform with his family from 2002 to 2005. He completied a total of 15 walks above 100 feet in the air in 2009.

His family has been in the circus since the 1700s and has been doing balancing acts without safety nets since the patriarch, Karl Wallenda, introduced the risky performance in the 1920s.

Several family members have died trying to complete the dangerous stunts, including Nik’s grandfather and founder, who fell to his death at age 73, while attempting a walk between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The incident was not due to Karl’s inability to stay balanced over the tightrope, but due to improper wiring set up by individuals outside the Wallenda family.

In June of 2011, Wallenda performed while hanging from a helicopter 250 feet above Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. First he hung from a trapeze with two arms, then one arm, then his legs, and finally by his teeth.

He said of the training for this feat:

“It was very difficult. It was very painful. I had neck problems for months afterwards.”

Nik Wallenda walk Niagara.
Nik Wallenda over Niagara.
Nik Wallenda tightrope.

Did you see Nik Wallenda crossing near the Grand Canyon?

[Image via David Pape (Flickr)]