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Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku
Artist
Unidentified Artist
Sitter
Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, 24 Aug 1890 - 22 Jan 1968
Date
c. 1915
Type
Photograph
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6cm (18 x 14")
Image/Sheet: 14.4 x 9.9cm (5 11/16 x 3 7/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.2007.195
Exhibition Label
Duke Kahanamoku transformed the Hawaiian pastime of surfing into a worldwide competitive sport. He first made headlines as a record-breaking swimmer who introduced the flutter kick to the sport. Having won gold medals at the 1912 and 1920 Olympics, he was arguably the best swimmer of his era, described by the press as a "human fish." When he traveled away from Hawaii, he often brought his surfboard and guitar; surfing and music were two pursuits that provided him a sense of escape. In 1912 he introduced surfing to California, and two years later he awed crowds in Australia with his board skills. Kahanamoku developed his own line of surf clothing and experimented with smaller, lighter boards, an example of which appears in this early photograph. An easygoing, modest man, he later served thirteen consecutive terms as sheriff of Honolulu and became a revered icon during a transitional period in Hawaiian history.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection