Today would be Duke Kahanamoku’s 130th birthday. Born on August 24, 1890, Duke immortalized the sport of surfing. He was also a five-time Olympic swimming medalist. Surfing has long played a role in Hawaiian culture and was once reserved exclusively for royalty.
Duke is remembered again today at the annual Duke’s Oceanfest, which takes place at Waikiki. The weeklong event, sponsored by the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, has been canceled for 2020.
Join with Duke virtually today.
Be part of the celebration of surfing and all things Hawaii by posting photos of yourself catching a wave or doing something athletic. Then post your photo on Facebook or Instagram with the special hashtag #DukesDay2020 or #DukesOceanFest and share the Aloha. How will you celebrate Duke’s Day 2020?
You can also watch this scaled-down ceremony held earlier today in Waikiki.
Facts about Duke Kahanamoku.
Born in Honolulu at Haleakala, home to Bernice Pauahi Bishop, he grew up with five siblings and learned to surf and swim at Waikiki. Duke attended the Kamehameha Schools, although he did not graduate because his family needed his support.
Lived for a while in Southern California, where he had roles in several movies. Later Duke would appear in TV and film, including Mister Roberts in 1955, and was renowned in the Hollywood community.
Earlier, while in Newport Beach, in 1925 he rescued eight men from a capsized fishing vessel. In that tragic incident, 17 people drowned trying to save those on the boat. Duke used his surfboard to shuttle people to shore. The police chief said that it was “The most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen.” After that incident, surfboards became a regular part of ocean rescues.
Duke was also the Sheriff of Honolulu, Hawaii, serving from 1932 to 1961.
Duke Kahanamoku died of a heart attack on January 22, 1968, at the age of 77 and his ashes were buried at sea. At his funeral, beach boys sang Hawaiian songs, including “Aloha O.”
Statue pictured above. Honolulu commemorated his Waikiki Beach burial site in 1990 with the cast bronze statue. The statue has become a local shrine and tourist attraction both. His outstretched arms are adorned with fresh lei.
The featured image in our post is of Duke Kahanamoku, which Google used to honor the 125th anniversary of his birth just five years ago. See below.
Beat of Hawaii © photos.