You are probably familiar with this statue at the beach in Waikiki.
But who was Duke Kahanamoku?
Duke hit the scene in 1912 when he easily made the Olympic swim team, repping the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Over the next 3 summer Olympics, Duke earned 5 medals as a freestyle swimmer.
After completing his time with the Olympics, Duke continued to tour the world giving swimming exhibitions. He used these swimming exhibitions to incorporate surfing and brought this Hawaiian Sport of Kings to the international community. But he also was an international ambassador for Hawaii and the aloha spirit.
He first brought surfing to SoCal in 1912. He acted as an extra in many Californian films, and then used his connections to effectively publicize the sport of surfing.
Duke holds well deserved spots in the Swimming Hall of Fame, Surfing Hall of Fame, AND the US Olympic Hall of Fame. Duke is considered by most to be the father of modern day surfing, and that also earned him a spot in my heart.
And now, 100 years following his double gold medal success in Antwerp 1920 , surfing will be introduced for the first time to the Olympics.
2020 in Tokyo will be historic. And it’s all thanks to Duke and his amazing legacy.