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Duke Kahanamoku Biography - A Hawaiian Childhood, Olympic Star, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, The Father Of Surfing

1890-1968

American surfer

Duke Kahanamoku achieved legendary status in two sports—swimming and surfing—and in the process became Hawaii's best-known citizen. More than a sports champion or media celebrity, however, Kahanamoku also represented a vital link with his native land's past. In popularizing surfing among new generations of athletes around the world, Kahanamoku helped to keep the ancient sport alive after it had almost perished along with other Hawaiian traditions in the nineteenth century. At the time of his death in 1968, Kahanamoku was celebrated not only as a superb athlete, but as a cultural icon as well.

Sketch by Timothy Borden

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