Duke Kahanamoku (August 24, 1890 – January 22, 1968) is a legend in the world of surfing, but this was only one of his many great achievements.
Duke (aka "The Big Kahuna") was born in Honolulu and grew up in Kalia, Waikiki (near the present site of the Hilton Hawaiian Village). It was at this beautiful place where Duke perfected his surfing and swimming skills. He eventually developed into an Olympic champion and the world's fastest swimmer. Between 1912 and 1932, he won six medals in four Olympics... three gold, two silver and a bronze.
Duke is revered as the "Father of International Surfing", for he introduced the sport to the eastern seaboard of America, Europe and Australia.
Duke became a hero in 1925 when he saved eight lives from a capsized launch at Corona Del Mar, California, using only his surfboard.
He was a movie actor from 1925 - 1933, and from 1934 - 1960 he was elected Sheriff of Honolulu for thirteen consecutive terms.
He has been recognized as Hawaii's Ambassador of Aloha since 1912.
For his burial at sea, a long motorcade of mourners, accompanied by a 30-man police escort, moved across town to Waikiki Beach. Reverend Abraham Akaka, pastor of Kawaiahao Church, performed the service. A group of beach boys sang Hawaiian songs, including "Aloha Oe", and Duke's ashes were scattered into the ocean.
It is fitting that this captivating bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku graces Waikiki beach and welcomes all visitors to this Hawaiian gem. I believe the final sentence on the plaque of Duke's statue sums up the man nicely:
"He has honored his name, he has honored his race, he has honored his state, he has honored us all".
For more information, click here: Duke Kahanamoku.