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Sneaker activist wants to go 'Back to the Future'

Self-proclaimed "sneaker activist" Al Cabino is on a mission.

The 20-something Montreal resident wants to make it possible for you, me and especially him, to own a piece of movie and sneaker history: the gray moonboot-like "McFlys" made famous by Michael J. Fox's character Marty McFly in the "Back to the Future" trilogy. The only problem is they aren't for sale. In fact, they don't even exist--yet.

Nike McFlys
Credit: Universal
Michael J. Fox donned McFlys
in "Back to the Future."

Cabino hopes his online petition will persuade Nike to revive and reproduce the single pair the company manufactured for the film. And he's not alone: Since November 2005 he's collected 19,893 names of people from 50 countries who'd also like to don what are known in the sneaker-fan world as "the Holy Grail of movie sneakers." When he's reached a "respectable" number of signatures (he won't say what that is), the sneaker-lover hopes to present the petition personally to Phil Knight, chairman of the biggest athletic shoe company in the world.

Along the way, his passionate pursuit has attracted some significant media attention--MTV, Business Week, Time, and U.S., British and Canadian newspapers.

Despite the publicity, recent offers of a book deal and a sneaker enthusiast magazine in development, Cabino says that he really just wants to get his hands on those sneakers. "Everyone's going to think I'm just a crazy sneaker fan, but I want the shoes," he told CNET News.com in an interview. It's been suggested to him that he place ads on his blog, but Cabino dismisses ads as a distraction from his objective. "It's the shoes and just the shoes," he said.

Next up, he's got Apple Computer in his activist crosshairs. Cabino says if he gets the McFlys made, he may turn his attention to the "Air Apples," Nike shoes with the famous Apple logo issued to Apple employees in the '90s. He says he's received a positive response from members of the online Apple-loving community.

Steve Jobs, consider yourself warned.