Kahanamoku’s legendary surfing career began to take off when he beat the then-world record for 100 yd. and 200 yd. freestyle surfing. He became an Olympian in 1912, winning gold in Stockholm that year and gold in the 1920 Antwerp games. He also won the silver in the 1924 Paris games, with the bronze going to his brother Samuel. Interestingly enough, Johnny Weismuller won the gold—Weismuller went on to play Tarzan in the 1930s and 1940s films.
Kahanamoku also worked in Hollywood as a character actor and background actor, and while in Newport Beach, CA in 1925, saved a number of stranded sailors with the help of two other surfers.
Other titles Kahanamoku held in his life included being a military police officer, Honolulu sheriff, and a businessman. He was also the first person to be inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame and the Swimming Hall of Fame and is part of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
There’s tons more you can read about Kahanamoku (including Wikipedia—where I got my information—which is also includes info on how his parents families are members of chief and noble clans), but surfers all around the world credit Kahanamoku with popularizing the sport.
What do you love about Kahanamoku? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
Photo of Duke Kahanamoku. Public Domain.