Gonz came on the skateboarding scene at age 15 with a modern approach to street skating and made the cover of Thrasher (magazine) November 1984 issue, riding a board from Alva, his sponsor at the time. He soon changed sponsorship by riding for Vision Skateboards and shortly thereafter turned professional.
Gonzales won the 1985 Oceanside street contest and placed high in others that year. By then, Gonz was shifting street skating away from the vertical skateboarding based style that had been the standard, to a more technical one based on the freestyle skateboarding of Rodney Mullen. The most notable trick Gonz transferred at this time from freestyle to street was the kick flip ollie, and by 1986, Gonzales could even be seen doing double kick flips at demos. In the summer of 1986, Gonzales performed a groundbreaking ollie at the Embarcadero in San Francisco. So historic was this incident for skateboarding, it became forever known as the “Gonz Gap” and helped make the Embarcadero a popular location for skateboarders. Later that year, Gonzales became the first person to skate handrails, thus cementing his contribution to street skating’s early to intermediate stages.