Arthur Knauful and Evel Knievel ... Really?

Where does the name Evel Knievel come from? It’s a memorable one for sure.

The surname was all his own. Born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte, Montana, the young man lived an active life and wanted to do stunts from an early age. Falling foul of the law, he spent the night in prison.

There, he met Arthur Knauful, who had the alternate first name “Awful”. According to ABC Balancing Beads, the cops christened Robert “Evil” Knievel to complement Knauful. He changed it later to the more distinctive “Evel”.


Arthur Knauful and Evel Knievel ... come on!

I recently heard this story on the No Such Thing As A Fish podcast and voila here it is again in my RSS reader from The Vintage News :)

Now, is it true ... dunno.

By Kat Walsh (User:Mindspillage) -, CC BY-SA 4.0,
By Kat Walsh (User:Mindspillage) -, CC BY-SA 4.0,

A search for Arthur Knawful brings up a lot regarding the 1978 play, The Adventures of Awful Knawful, by Peter Flannery and Mick Ford; "This was a hilarious and very successful Christmas show written for the RSC and first performed at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, London on 20 December 1978.". This play does feel to me like it's based on the name "Evel Knievel" and I suspect they would be as surprised as I to learn about the story above.

The story is repeated on Wikipedia but, tellingly, with [citation required].

And finally, almost all of the search snippets are, He was in a cell next to a gentleman called Arthur Knauful [pronounced nor-full] who because of his vicious behaviour had gotten the nickname “Awful Knaufull" ..., which makes me think they are all referencing one source with a copy-n-paste approach to creating content. That one source might well be the [citation required] paragraph in Wikipedia.

And that's it. Nothing else about Arthur Knauful via Google.
Which goes to prove one, some, or all of a few things:
  • Google doesn't know all
  • Not everything is on the open web
  • It's not true
I for one will be passing on this story in the hope that we live in a universe where time can be warped, where cause and effect can be rewired, and that the more it's known the more likely it is true ;)


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