Duke Kahanamoku Olympic gold medallist and surfer
The legendary Hawaiian waterman won 3 Olympic golds and 2 silvers, as well as popularising surfing round the world.
Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, also known as the Big Kahuna, was born on August 24, 1890 in Hawaii and went on to become a five-time Olympic swimming medalist.
Duke was the father of modern surfing
Duke, his name rather than a title, was also a policeman, an actor, a beach volleyball player and a businessman. He was widely credited with popularising surfing around the world, when at that time it only known in Hawaii.
Olympic gold medallist
He easily classifed for the USA Olympic swimming team in 1912, beating the 200 metre freestyle record in qualifying, and smashing the world record as he took gold in the 100m freestyle.
Olympic medal haul
Duke won the gold in the 100m in Stockholm 1912 and 1920 in Antwerp. He also got gold in the 4x100 in 1920. His silver medals came in Stockholm in the 4x200m relay and in Paris 1924 in the 100m freestyle.
Promoting surfing around the world
In addition to competitive swimming, Duke travelled the world giving swimming and surf demonstrations. His show at Freshwater Beach, Sydney on 23 December 1914 is considered the most important event in the development of Australian surfing.
Duke was also a hero
In addition to being a swimmer and a surfer, Duke was a hero: while living in Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, he rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf. 29 fishermen went into the water and 17 perished. Newport's police chief at the time said of Duke's efforts that it was "the most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen".
Since then, surfboards have been standard issue for life guards in the US.
Duke in Hollywood
Duke lived for a time in Southern Californa and was an actor and an extra in a number of films. He used his Hollywood contacts to promote surfing.
Duke was the first person to be inducted into both the Swimming Hall of Fame and the Surfing Hall of Fame. The Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championships are named in his honour. He surfed his whole life and will always be remembered as the father of modern surfing.
Tributes still paid to Duke
Kahanamoku died of a heart attack on January 22, 1968, at the age of 77. His ashes were scattered in his beloved sea. There is a statue in his honour in Waikiki, Hawaii.
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