Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Is Your Life: Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku Statue Waikiki
The real "Big Kahuna," Duke Kahanamoku, is today best remembered for his surfing prowess, but we often forget that he was also a five-time U.S. Olympic swimming champion from 1912-1932 and played for the U.S. water polo team at the 1932 Summer Olympics.

It may also come as a surprise is that ...
...While living in Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, Kahanamoku rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf [25 foot waves] while attempting to enter the city's harbor. 29 fishermen went into the water and 17 perished. Using his surfboard, he was able to make quick trips back and forth to shore to increase the number of sailors rescued. Two other surfers saved four more fishermen. Newport's police chief at the time called Duke's efforts "the most superhuman surfboard rescue act the world has ever seen."**
These facts were discovered when the PaddleAir team stumbled across the 1957 "This Is Your Life" video with Ralph Edwards about "Duke Kahanamoku Olympic Hero/Sheriff/'Father of Surfing'." Sure you can read all about the Duke's life on **Wikipedia. However, the 24 minutes of the black-and-white video, below, are a nostalgic and often amusing foray into the last century and a wonderful source of material for trivia buffs.

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