O’ahu – Honolulu – Waikīkī: Kuhio Beach Park – Duke Kahanamoku

O’ahu – Honolulu – Waikīkī: Kuhio Beach Park – Duke Kahanamoku
Heart Disease
The iconic statue of Duke Kahanamoku, sculpted by Jan Gordon Fisher (sometimes incorrectly credited to Jan-Michelle Sawyer), was dedicated in Kuhio Beach Park along Kalakaua Avenue, on August 24, 1990, which would have been Duke’s 100th Birthday. The statue is marker number five on the Waikiki Historic Trail.

Raised in Waikiki, Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (August 24, 1890 – January 22, 1968) was a full blooded Hawaiian, who would go on to symbolize his homeland to much of the world. He was was Hawai’i’s first Olympic medalist, winning six medals in swimming over four Olympic Games: 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden (one gold and one silver medal); 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium (two gold medals); 1924 in Paris, France (one silver medal); and 1932 in Los Angeles (one bronze medal). Preceding Johnny Weissmuler as "The World’s Fastest Swimmer," Duke replaced the outmoded "scissors kick" with his novel "flutter kick." Between competitions, and after retiring from competitive swimming, he traveled internationally to give swimming exhibitions, where he would incorporate his first love–surfing. In 1908, Duke and his friends organized one of the first amateur surfing clubs, Hui Nalu, where they formulated many of the sport’s rules that are still honored today. The "Father of Modern Surfing", Duke introduced the sport to the Eastern seaboard of America, Europe, and Australia. He also pioneered tandem surfing, and was the first to wind-surf and wake-surf. He became a hero when he saved eight lives from a capsized launch at Corona del Mar, California in 1925 using his surfboard. A movie actor from 1925-1933, he was elected Sheriff of Honolulu for thirteen consecutive terms from 1934-1960. He has been recognized as Hawai’i’s Ambassador of Aloha since 1912.

Kuhio Beach Park, the stretch of Waikiki Beach between the Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Kapahulu Groin, was named for Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, who is honored with a statue in the park. Kuhio Beach Park was the site of Prince Kuhio’s home, Pualeilani, or "flower from the wreath of heaven," where he lived with his wife, Princess Elizabeth Kahanu and in 1918, he opened this section of beach to the public. When he died of heart disease at Pualeilani on Jan. 7, 1922, the property was ceded to the city, and officially dedicated as Kuhio Beach Park in 1940.

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