Although Hawaiians had been riding waves since before the arrival of Captain Cook, Duke exposed the sport to the rest of the world. After winning a gold and silver medal in swimming at the Stockholm Olympics, he traveled the world and subsequently introduced surfing to the East Coast, Australia, and New Zealand, demonstrating his talent and spreading Aloha to scores of enthralled spectators.
Duke went on to win another Olympic gold and silver medal and solidified his waterman status by rescuing eight fishermen at Newport Harbor, riding one of the longest waves in history (reportedly a mile long) in Waikiki, and being inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame and Surfing Hall of Fame.
Duke fratenized with dignitaries, royalty, movie stars, and, of course, some of early surfing's greatest athletes and craftsmen.Greg Noll called Duke "...a hero to your hero's heroes," and Surfer magazine named him Surfer of the Century. Surfing as we know it today began in the spirit and beneath the feet of Duke Kahanamoku.