Duke Kahanamoku Video – a video done by Hawaiian students I presume. It kind of dies out abruptly at the end, but it has so much good information I thought it was worth posting:
I happened to find an old video from 1963 with some surfing footage at one of my favorite places in Hawaii – Honolua Bay, Maui. This led me to surfing through Youtube for other old videos of the Hawaiian islands. There were more than a couple Duke Kahanamoku videos, so I started watching them. I became captivated with Duke’s story. If you’ve lived in Hawaii, you know his name, but you probably don’t know much about him. I knew he was a swimmer and surfer… but there is a lot more to the story, a lot more to say about Duke as a man.
Some history about Duke Kahanamoku:
- Duke shattered swimming records
- Competed in the Olympics for 20 years
- Won Gold medals in Swimming
- Introduced Surfing to the World
- Pioneered the Hawaii visitor industry
- Became Hawaii’s Ambassador of Aloha
Duke Kahanamoku was born in Waikiki in 1890, one hundred and twenty-two years ago. It’s hard to imagine that because his influence is so strong in Hawaii. It’s almost as if you could see him come down to Waikiki with his 100+ lb. board and catch some of the easy rolling waves. It’s almost like he’s there – his statue right there on the beach where hundreds of people surf long boards each day, is bigger than life. Duke was an inspiration for Hawaiians then and now.
Below are just some notes I jotted down as I listened to some of the videos:
- Described by friends as pure Hawaiian, big, strong, gentle, humorous, legendary, iconic, a humble hero.
- Another friend of Duke’s said, “He was so powerful, he had a tremendous kick. (while swimming)”, and, “he had long lean arms and powerful legs…”
- His father was a police captain – who fought hard to work his way up through ranks.
- Duke’s mother was a very religious woman – with a strong sense of family’s ancestry.
- Grew up in Waikiki where Royal Hawaiian hotel stands on Waikiki beach now.
- Dropped out of school.
- Aug 12, 1911 – 100 yard swim meet in Honolulu – broke the world record by more than 4 seconds. This world record was thrown out – it never became official. Nobody could believe he beat the world record by four seconds when other challengers to previous world records were shaving tenths of seconds off the record. Officals blamed the excellent result Duke got on their unprofessional timers and currents in the ocean.
- In 1912 Duke won one gold, and in 1920 he won two gold medals in the Olympics for swimming.
- Introduced surfing to Australia by taking an Aussie woman on a tandem surf on a board he made from a local tree. Australia took to surfing in a big way – as you can see by the state of the sport in the country today!
- Being very brown-skinned, Duke encountered racism across the world – and persevered in spite of it.
- First person to be inducted into both the Swimming Hall of Fame and the Surfing Hall of fame.
- Member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame with 5 medals.
- Duke was an actor, lifeguard, and played water polo well too.
A story from his time in California –