Duke Kahanamoku

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    Lucky lens flare right over the Duke's heart.

    Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (August 24, 1890 – January 22, 1968), is generally regarded as the person who popularized the modern sport of surfing. He was also an Olympic champion in swimming.

    Growing up on the outskirts of Waikiki (near the present site of the Hilton Hawaiian Village), Kahanamoku spent his youth as a bronzed beach boy. It was at Waikiki Beach where he developed his surfing and swimming skills.

    In his youth, Kahanamoku preferred an old-school (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 sixteen feet (4.8 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.

    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 solemnly across town to Waikiki Beach. Reverend Abraham Akaka, the pastor of Kawaiahao Church performed the service. A group of beach boys began singing Hawaiian songs, including "Aloha Oe." Duke’s ashes were then scattered into the ocean he loved so dearly.

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