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Who is Duke Kahanamoku?

a person standing in front of a palm tree

The famous statue of a man with his arms outstretched in a welcoming gesture, adorned with many flower leis, dominates the heart of Waikiki. You’ve bumped into it, and now you’re wondering, who exactly is this Duke Kahanamoku? He has a statue in Hawaii, a lane, a beach, a lagoon even a beach bar. Read more to find out why locals hold him in such high regard and what made Duke Kahanamoku famous in Hawaii (and around the world).

Who is Duke Kahanamoku

His full name was Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku. He was born on Oahu in the days of the kingdom in 1890, as a member of a prominent Hawaiian family (ohana). Who served the royal family (aliʻi nui). Before long, however, he became a revered resident of the United States. Who was Duke Kahanamoku really?

Olympic medalist

Duke Kahanamoku learned to swim and surf well during his childhood in Waikiki. He loved all water sports including canoeing and bodysurfing. At the age of twenty-one, he achieved his first sporting success. First Olympic gold medal and world record for the 100 meter freestyle. For the next twenty years he was a successful member of the U.S. Olympic team. He was winning not only Olympic medals but, also the hearts of fans around the world. Mainly thanks to his cheerful nature.

The father of modern surfing

After becoming a new sports hero, Duke Kahanamoku decided to introduce the world to surfing. He traveled the U.S. Atlantic Coast, Australia and New Zealand. In 1929 he rode a monster wave for 1 1/8 miles at Waikiki, which is probably the longest ride in modern times. His incredible performances made him the first person to be inducted into both the Swimming and Surfing Halls of Fame.

Duke Kahanamoku – The ambassador of Aloha

But the real answer to the question who was and is Duke Kahanamoku, is a real genuine persona. He was a passionate ukulele player and had a good sense of humor. He also starred in over 28 Hollywood films during his lifetime and then served twenty-five years as Sheriff for the city and county of Honolulu. His life included such things as rescuing eight drowning men at Newport Beach, CA and surviving brain surgery. Above all this is the real reason he is known as an Ambassador of the Aloha Spirit.