Go Surf – Do you know Duke Kahanamoku?

Have you ever heard of Duke Kahanamoku , the Hawaiian famous for being the pioneer of surfing?

Born in Hawaii at the end of the 19th century, although still unknown to many today, he is remembered mainly because he was the one who exported the discipline of surfing from the Pacific islands all over the world.

Here are some curiosities about this interesting character:


Duke was born in Waikiki, the first of nine children of a family belonging to the local aristocracy.


It was his nickname during the 1920s, in fact since he was a child he showed such a big innate talent for swimming, that during his life he managed to win five medals by participating in four Olympics between 1912 and 1932, competing not only in swimming but also in water polo.

He was also known by the name of “fish man”, a nickname that an American journalist gave him in 1913.


There was an episode that fueled his fame: on June 14, 1925 in Newport Beach, California, together with other surfers, he saved twelve shipwrecked fishermen from drowning with their boat in raging waters, while another seventeen lost their lives.

Duke managed to rescue eight of them by loading them onto his surfboard.


Like his fellow countrymen, Duke also learned very early to surf, a practice that was very little widespread at the time.

Initially the boards were long and bulky , but Duke was able to create more agile boards and new moves to handle them better in the middle of the waves.

Thanks to his notoriety as an athlete, he began to perform in demonstration shows especially in the USA and Canada, making the new generations fall in love and launching what will become a new global sport.


The captivating smile and athletic physique also allowed him to act in some Hollywood films, playing the pirate, the soldier and other exotic roles.

Despite his popularity, he was victim of racial prejudices of the America of his time and spent the last few years in his beloved Hawaii, serving as a sheriff just as his father once did.

A real legend therefore, which is an inspiration and model to all fans of this reckless discipline.

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