Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (August 24, 1890 – January 22, 1968) was a Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) competition swimmer, who is widely credited with popularizing the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing. He was born towards the end of the Kingdom of Hawaii, just before the overthrow, living well into statehood as a United States citizen. He was a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming. Duke was also a law enforcement officer, an actor, a beach volleyball player and businessman.
His name "Duke" has often been confused with a royal title; however, it was his given name, passed down from his father. His grandparents were attendants to the Kamehamehas. While not a formal member of the royal family, he was descended from Alapainui, who ruled Hawaii Island.
According to Kahanamoku, he was born in Honolulu at Haleʻākala, the home of Bernice Pauahi Bishop which was later converted into the Arlington Hotel. He had five brothers and three sisters, including Samuel Kahanamoku. In 1893, the family moved to Kālia, Waikiki (near the present site of the Hilton Hawaiian Village), to be closer to his mother's parents and family. Duke grew up with his siblings and 31 Paoa cousins.:17 Duke attended the Waikiki Grammar School, Kaahumanu School, and the Kamehameha Schools, although he never graduated because he had quit to help support the family.
"Duke" was not a title or a nickname, but a given name. He was named after his father, Duke Halapu Kahanamoku, who was christened by Bernice Pauahi Bishop in honor of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, who was visiting Hawaii at the time. His father was a policeman. His mother Julia Paʻakonia Lonokahikina Paoa was a deeply religious woman with a strong sense of family ancestry.
Even though not of the formal Hawaiian Royal Family, his parents were from prominent Hawaiian ohana (family); the Kahanamoku and the Paoa ohana were considered to be lower-ranking nobles, who were in service to the aliʻi nui or royalty. His paternal grandfather was Kahanamoku and his grandmother, Kapiolani Kaoeha (sometimes spelled Kahoea), a descendant of Alapainui. They were kahu, retainers and trusted advisors of the Kamehamehas, to whom they were related. His maternal grandparents Paoa, son of Paoa Hoolae and Hiikaalani, and Mele Uliama were also of aliʻi descent.:9
Growing up on the outskirts of Waikiki, Kahanamoku spent his youth as a bronzed beach boy. At Waikiki Beach he developed his surfing and swimming skills. In his youth, Kahanamoku preferred a traditional surf board, which he called his "papa nui", constructed after the fashion of ancient Hawaiian "olo" boards. Made from the wood of a koa tree, it was 16 feet (4.9 m) long and weighed 114 pounds (52 kg). The board was without a skeg, which had yet to be invented. In his later career, he would often use smaller boards but always preferred those made of wood.
On August 11, 1911, Kahanamoku was timed at 55.4 seconds in the 100 yards (91 m) freestyle, beating the existing world record by 4.6 seconds, in the salt water of Honolulu Harbor. He also broke the record in the 220 yd (200 m) and equaled it in the 50 yd (46 m). But the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), in disbelief, would not recognize these feats until many years later. The AAU initially claimed that the judges must have been using alarm clocks rather than stopwatches and later claimed that ocean currents aided Kahanamoku.
Kahanamoku easily qualified for the U.S. Olympic swimming team in 1912. At the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, he won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle, and a silver medal with the second-place U.S. team in the men's 4×200-meter freestyle relay. During the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, he won gold medals both in the 100 meters (bettering fellow Hawaiian Pua Kealoha) and in the relay. He finished the 100 meters with a silver medal during the 1924 Olympics in Paris, with the gold going to Johnny Weissmuller and the bronze to Duke's brother, Samuel Kahanamoku. At age 34, this was Kahanamoku's last Olympic medal. He also was an alternate for the U.S. water polo team at the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Between Olympic competitions, and after retiring from the Olympics, Kahanamoku traveled internationally to give swimming exhibitions. It was during this period that he popularized the sport of surfing, previously known only in Hawaii, by incorporating surfing exhibitions into these visits as well. His surfing exhibition at Sydney's Freshwater Beach on December 24, 1914 is widely regarded as a seminal event in the development of surfing in Australia. The board that Kahanamoku built from a piece of pine from a local hardware store is retained by the Freshwater Surf Club. There is a statue of Kahanamoku on the Northern headland of Freshwater Beach, New South Wales. He made surfing popular in mainland America first in 1912 while in Southern California.
During his time living in Southern California, Kahanamoku performed in Hollywood as a background actor and a character actor in several films. In this way, he made connections with people who could further publicize the sport of surfing. Kahanamoku was involved with the Los Angeles Athletic Club, acting as lifeguard and competing on both swimming and water polo teams.
While living in Newport Beach, California on June 14, 1925, Kahanamoku rescued eight men from a fishing vessel that capsized in heavy surf 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". It also caused U.S. lifeguards to begin using surfboards in their water rescues.
In 1940, he married Nadine Alexander, who accompanied him when he traveled. Kahanamoku was the first person to be inducted into both the Swimming Hall of Fame and the Surfing Hall of Fame. The Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championships are named in his honor. He is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. He served as sheriff of Honolulu, Hawaii from 1932 to 1961, serving 13 consecutive terms. During this period, he also appeared in a number of television programs and films, such as Mister Roberts (1955).
Duncan v. Kahanamoku
Kahanamoku was the martial law on the island. Duncan was therefore tried by a military tribunal and appealed to the Supreme Court. In a post hoc ruling, the court ruled that trial by military tribunal was, in this case, unconstitutional.
Death and legacy
Kahanamoku died of a heart attack on January 22, 1968, at the age of 77. For his burial at sea a long motorcade of mourners, accompanied by a 30-man police escort, moved across town to Waikiki Beach. Reverend Abraham Akaka, the pastor of Kawaiahao Church, performed the service. A group of beach boys sang Hawaiian songs, including "Aloha Oe." His ashes were scattered into the ocean.
Hawaii music promoter Kimo Wilder McVay capitalized on Kahanamoku's popularity by naming his Waikiki showroom "Duke Kahanamoku's," and giving Kahanamoku a piece of the financial action in exchange for the use of his name. It was a major Waikiki showroom in the 1960s and is remembered as the home of Don Ho & The Aliis from 1964 through 1969.
Kahanamoku's name is also used by Duke's Canoe Club & Barefoot Bar, a beachfront bar and restaurant in the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach Hotel. There is a chain of restaurants named after him in California and Hawaii called Duke's. A bronze statue at Waikiki beach in Honolulu honors his memory. It shows Kahanamoku standing in front of his surfboard with his arms outstretched. Many honor him by placing leis on his statue. There is a webcam watching the statue, allowing visitors from around the world to wave to their friends.
On August 24, 2002, which was also the 112th anniversary of the birth of Duke Kahanamoku, a 37-cent first-class letter rate postage stamp of the United States Postal Service with Duke's picture on it, was issued. The First Day Ceremony was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki and was attended by thousands. At this ceremony, attendees could attach the Duke stamp to an envelope and get it canceled with a First Day of Issue postmark. These First Day Covers are very collectable.
On February 28, 2015, a monument featuring a replica of Kahanamoku's surfboard was unveiled at New Brighton beach, Christchurch, New Zealand in honour of the 100th anniversary of Kahanamoku's visit to New Brighton.
|The Pony Express||Indian Chief|
|No Father to Guide Him||The Lifeguard|
|Lord Jim||Tamb Itam|
|1926||Old Ironsides||Pirate Captain||uncredited|
|Isle of Sunken Gold||The Devil-Ape|
|Where East Is East||Wild Animal Trapper||uncredited|
|1930||Girl of the Port||Kalita|
|Isle of Escape||Manua|
|1931||Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks||Himself||documentary|
|The Black Camel||bit part as surf instructor||at 0:01:36|
|1948||Wake of the Red Witch||Ua Nuke|
|1955||Mister Roberts||Native Chief (as Duke Kahanamoko)|
|1957||This Is Your Life||Himself|
|1967||Free and Easy||Himself||documentary|
- Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon
- "Duke Paoa Kahanamoku" Sculpture/Statue, Public Art in Public Places Project
- Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship
- List of multiple Olympic gold medalists
- List of Olympic medalists in swimming (men)
- World record progression 100 metres freestyle
- World record progression 4 × 200 metres freestyle relay
- "Duke Kahanamoku. Notable Asian Americans. Gale Research, 1995. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
- Father Of International Surfing To Be Honored On New Postage Stamp. USPS. July 30, 2002
- New Brighton Honours Surfing Legend TV3, 2015
- Duke Kahanamoku at the Internet Movie Database
- Paniccia, Patti. "Who Owns the Duke?: The battle for the trademark to Duke Kahanamoku’s name has been far less dignified than the man himself." Honolulu Magazine. 01 November 2006. http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/November-2006/Who-Owns-the-Duke/
- Duke Kahanamoku – Olympic athlete profile at Sports-Reference.com
- Duke Kahanamoku (USA) – Honor Swimmer profile at International Swimming Hall of Fame
- Kahanamoku Sons bio of Duke
- Moments with Duke highlights, pictures, & videos
- Surfline bio of Duke
- Undated photo of Kahanamoku from the Library of Congress collection
- Video of the Duke Kahanamoku Statue at the Surfers Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, California on YouTube
- Info on Hawaii, its people and history.
- Duke Kahanamoku at the Internet Movie Database
- restaurant websiteDuke's
- More on Duke Kahanamoku and other surfing heroes