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Duke Kahanamoku

The Father Of Surfing

After his appearance at the 1912 Olympics, Kahanamoku was an international celebrity. He toured the United States giving swimming and surfing exhibitions and even went to Australia at the invitation of the Australia Swimming Association in late 1914. Although some Australians had tried to surf before, Kahanamoku's appearance at the Freshwater Beach near Sydney in February 1915 caused a sensation in the country. Kahanamoku spent two-and-a-half hours giving a demonstration of surfing on a board that he had made himself, and even took a young woman out on the board for a ride. Surfing eventually became one of the Australia's most popular past-times, and many credited Kahanamoku with being the "Father of Modern Surfing" for increasing interest in the sport at home and abroad.

By now the most famous resident of Hawaii, Kahanamoku was sought out by numerous celebrities during their visits to the islands. One of his most notable acquaintances was the Prince of Wales, whom he taught to surf in 1920. Kahanamoku also rubbed shoulders with some of Hollywood's most famous stars, a by-product of his own career as a character actor—usually playing tribal chiefs—that began in the 1920s. Kahanmoku's most memorable appearances came at the end of his acting career in the 1948 John Wayne movie The Wake of the Red Witch and the 1955 Jack Lemmon movie Mister Roberts.

Kahanamoku also earned praise for his heroism during a daring rescue of passengers from a capsized boat off the coast of Corona del Mar, California on June 14, 1925. Twenty-nine passengers on the pleasure boat the Thelma had been pitched into the Pacific Ocean after the craft had capsized. Upon hearing the news, Kahanamoku jumped onto his surfboard and paddled out to the scene. He managed to drag eight people out of the ocean and ferry them back to shore; only four others survived the wreck. As Leonard Leuras later quoted a story from the Los Angeles Times on Kahanamoku's life in his Surfing: The Ultimate Pleasure, "His role on the beach that day was more dramatic than the scores he played in four decades of intermittent bit-part acting in Hollywood films. For one thing, that day he was the star."

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Famous Sports StarsExtreme SportsDuke Kahanamoku Biography - A Hawaiian Childhood, Olympic Star, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, The Father Of Surfing