It took Percy Knox many acts to find his niche. But once he found it, he boldly carved out his own space. “Especially in this day and age, it’s still all about finding the right niche, finding something that’s unique to the marketplace,” he says. “You really have to flesh out who you are, what you’re doing, and how it’s going to affect people.”

How do you find your calling? It’s about trusting your teachers, Knox says. “Having mentors and carefully listening will help you. Listening to the advice that my UA coaches gave me was pivotal to my success.”

Act One: Training to Be a World-Class Long Jumper

In 1988, Knox entered his freshman year at the UA as the No. 1 long jumper in the nation. He held the UA indoor long jump record (25 feet, 9.5 inches) for 18 years, and his UA team still holds the 4x1 school record to this day. Once upon a time, he thought long jumping was his future.

But after graduation, when Knox began his bid for the U.S. Olympic Team, he began developing micro tears in his takeoff foot. With an injury and a packed field of seven of the top eight long jumpers in the world in the running for the U.S. team, including Carl Lewis, Knox ended up making the finals but not the team.

Act Two: Taking Calculated Career Risks

Knox still ended up winning at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1993 and 1994, and he was the No. 5 long jumper in world in 1995. After his athletic career, Knox moved to Seattle to search for his next act. “I felt that sales and marketing was where my niche was, and I moved into tech sales,” he says.

And then Knox received a call that would dramatically change his trajectory. “I got the opportunity to move back down to Phoenix to work with my old UA coach,” he says. The job was at the company formerly known as Athletes’ Performance (API), now known as EXOS, an organization that specializes in training athletes and in the field of human performance.

Knox jumped at the opportunity. At API, he handled sales and marketing and worked with professional athletes and agents. It was a pivotal moment in his professional journey, one that came with a great degree of risk.

“When I took the risk of leaving Seattle and coming back down to Phoenix, and working with API,” Knox says, “it was the best decision I ever made.”

Through a connection Knox made at API, his focus shifted to fashion. “I met the owners of Élevée custom clothing in 2004,” he says. “I soon transitioned from the pro-athlete training side to the fashion side and officially moved over in 2007.”

Act Three: Making the Switch to Fashion

Through hard work and perseverance, Knox has grown his presence at the company. Today, he is president of Élevée. His wide-ranging duties include overseeing business development for the company, which crafts custom suits and other clothing in the U.S., and for, Élevée’s interior design division.

If you’ve seen the NBA Draft, chances are you’ve seen some of Élevée’s pieces. Many college basketball stars opt to wear the company’s suits on draft night. “Custom bespoke suits start at $1,895, and we’re in the process of developing another brand, Trumaker,” Knox says.

Now entrenched in the fashion industry, Knox is plugging ahead and not looking back.

Draw Inspiration from Fellow Wildcats

Read more about and connect with inspirational alumni on the Bear Down Network.