Duke Kahanamoku: Google Doodle Honors Father Of Surfing

Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing, is being honored on his birthday with he very own Google Doodle.

The Hawaiian, who first built his reputation as a swimming champion, is credited with bringing surfing to the world — from his native Hawaii to places like California, Australia and New Zealand.

As reported by Time magazine, Duke Kahanamoku was known as the Ambassador of Aloha and would have been 125 years old on Monday.

Born in 1890 in his native Hawaii, Kahanamoku was known for much more than just riding waves. He first built his reputation as a swimming champion, winning five Olympic medals over the course of his career.

According to a new biography by David Davis, Water Man: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku, which is due for release on Oct. 1, the Olympic champion became America’s first Olympic swimming star, winning a gold medal at the 1912 games in Stockholm and the 1920 games in Antwerp, and silver at Paris in 1924. He was also an alternate on the U.S. water polo team at Los Angeles in 1932.

According to LA Observed, Kahanamoku’s Olympic success enabled him to capitalize on his name to help further the passion of surfing that he shared with his fellow Hawaiians. Also called The Big Kanuha, Kahanamoku has surfed the world’s most imposing swells before Californians knew what surfing was.

But Kahanamoku was not just a chillin’ on beach surfin’ dude. He was also elected the sheriff of his home county of Honolulu 13 times, including when Honolulu was attacked at Pearl Harbor, and starred in over a dozen movies, including the Oscar-winning Mister Roberts. Even more surprising, he is credited with being a driving force in helping the Hawaiian islands achieve statehood in 1959.

Illustrator Matt Cruickshank decided to honor Duke Kahanamoku’s birthday with a Google Doodle sketch of the likeness of the surfer along with his 16-ft. wooden surfboard.

[Image via Twitter/The Independent]