Credited with helping to popularize the sport of surfing, Duke Kahanamoku was born in 1890 to a prominent Hawaiian family. Honing his swimming skills while growing up in Hawaii, he went on to earn medals at the 1912, 1920, and 1924 Summer Olympic Games, followed by an acting career and several terms as the sheriff of Honolulu. The National Archives holds several items related to Duke Kahanamoku, including his World War I Draft Registration Card, in which he lists his occupation as a diver for the Honolulu Public Works Department.
Google Doodle Honors Duke Kahanamoku, the Father of Surfing
Known as the Ambassador of Aloha, Kahanamoku traveled the world, bringing surfing to the likes of California, Australia and New Zealand over his lifetime. Aug. 24 marks what would’ve been Kahanamoku’s 125th birthday — he passed away in 1968.
In Hawaii, Kahanamoku is known for much more… a swimming champion, winning five Olympic medals over the course of his career. His success also enabled him to raise the profile of Hawaii’s true passion of surfing.
Kahanamoku was also elected the sheriff of his home county 13 times and starred in over a dozen movies. Most importantly, he is credited with helping the Hawaiian islands achieve statehood in 1959.
The surfer statue featured in the end credits is a real Hawaiian landmark on Waikiki Beach. It is of Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian considered the father of modern surfing and an Olympic gold medal winner. Nani also has a Duke poster in her bedroom.
Duke Kahanamoku was an Olympic swimmer and internationally-known surfer. He was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, as a child, Kahanamoku started a surf club, Hui Nalu, which still exists today. He even made his own light Redwood surfboard that he traveled with everywhere, introducing surfing to Australia. Kahanamoku set world-records, acted in several Hollywood films and settled down in Honolulu to become a sheriff. He will forever be known as the father of international surfing.
Images: Duke P. Kahanamoku by Bain News Service. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaiian surfing exponent. Held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Join us all month long as we feature stamps honoring Asian-Pacific American people and places. One of our favorites is this stamp issued in 2002. Considered the father of international surfing, Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku was also known for his grace, humility, and good sportsmanship.
His name “Duke” has often been confused with a royal title however, it was his given name, passed down from his father. His grandparents were attendants to the Kamehamehas. While not a formal member of the royal family, he was descended from Alapainui, who ruled Hawaii Island.
Say aloha to the 50th Anniversary Authentic Pro ‘66 featuring surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku’s iconic Aloha print and enhanced skate friendly upgrades making the Authentic Pro ‘66 the best, only better. #since66
While you’re surfing the web head on over to vans.com/proclassics to read all the specs on the Duke’s Authentic Pro Classic and to check out all 7 color ways of the Authentic Pro.
Harold Lloyd and Duke Kahanamoku enjoying Pacific Coast bathing . Harold was one of the most athletic and physically fit actors of his generation, enjoying swiming, handball and golf most of his life.
C. 1922 (This is probably at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where they were both members, along with other stars like Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Rudolph Valentino.)
Duke Kahanamoku was an Olympic gold medal champion swimmer, and also was the first person to popularize the sport of surfing. He became an actor and extra in Hollywood films, during the time he lived in Southern California.