Duke Kahanamoku: ambassador of aloha, waterman, and father of modern surfing | Photo: Photographer Unknown

He faced racial segregation with a smile and spent his life sharing the true values of sports. Explore the life of Duke Kahanamoku in pictures.

For many, Duke is the ultimate surfing legend; the father of modern surfing. But he was also a prolific record-breaking swimmer, with multiple Olympic medals under his belt.

The ambassador of Aloha lived a colorful life in the days of black-and-white photography. Kahanamoku was a tall and athletic human being.

With his smooth, laid-back attitude, the Hawaiian conquered many hearts and inspired generations to come.

Despite living in the offline era - the image of Duke was never captured by a digital camera - he is one of the most photographed water sports athletes of the 20th century.

The Big Kahuna helped promote surfing and the Hawaiian islands like no one else. And he never asked anything in return.

Discover the most iconic pictures of Duke Kahanamoku:

 

Duke Kahanamoku surfing Waikiki in 1910

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii, circa 1912

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

A humble Duke receives the Olympic laurel wreath from King Gustaf V of Sweden during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

A 45-degree portrait of young Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Library of Congress

Photo: Library of Congress

 

Riding an unknown wave in his own inimitable style, circa 1911-1914

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku wearing a suit, circa 1910-1915

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku with his custom-made surfboard, circa 1910-1915

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Lew G. Henderson, Vincent Genovese, E.K. Miller, and Duke Kahanamoku, circa 1910-1915

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Library of Congress

Photo: Library of Congress

 

Duke poses for the photographer wearing his swimming suit, circa 1910-1915

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Library of Congress

 

Photo: Library of Congress

 

Duke Kahanamoku in Waikiki with Charlotte Boyle and Ethelda Bleibtrey

Duke Kahanamoku

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

George Cunha, manager Francis Evans, and Duke pose for the photo during their trip to Australia and New Zealand, circa 1914-1915

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke plays the guitar in a swimming pool in Chicago, in 1918

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Chicago Historical Society

Photo: Chicago Historical Society

 

Hawaiian swimmers Harold Kruger, Clarence Lane, Duke Kahanamoku and Elionsky, participate in a Red Cross Benefit Swimming Meet at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, on August 26, 1918

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Paul Thompson

Photo: Paul Thompson

 

A day at the Outrigger Canoe Club in 1919 with swimmers Lundy Luger, Helen Moses, Duke Kahanamoku, "Dad" Center, Warren Kealoha, Pua Kealoha and Bill Harris

Duke Kahanamoku

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

The Big Kahuna bodysurfing at Makapuu Beach

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Francis Joseph Edmund Beaurepaire, Duke Kahanamoku and Reginald Leslie Baker, circa 1914-1924

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: State Library of New South Wales

Photo: State Library of New South Wales

 

Duke goes tandem at Waikiki, circa 1920

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

An honest portrait from the early days shot, circa 1920

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke with George David "Dad" Center at Antwerp 1920

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Sam and Duke Kahanamoku smile for the camera aboard a liner, circa 1920

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke with a classic square-tailed redwood surfboard shaped by himself, circa 1920s

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku standing on a beach with his surfboard in Los Angeles, California, circa 1920

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku leads the USA team into 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku prepares to dive at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku focused and ready to break a world record at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku shortly after winning the 100-meter freestyle in the 1920 Olympic Games

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

A youthful Duke wearing a stylish beard

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku and his crew in 1921

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Frank G. Carpenter/Library of Congress

Photo: Frank G. Carpenter/Library of Congress

 

Duke Kahanamoku riding tandem with Viola Hartmann at Laguna Beach, circa 1922-1925

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: The Paragon Agency

Photo: The Paragon Agency

 

Johnny Weissmuller and Duke Kahanamoku shake hands at the 1924 Summer Olympics

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Johnny Weissmuller and Duke Kahanamoku at the 1924 Paris Olympics: rivals in the pool, friends out of the water

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Bettmann Collection

Photo: Bettmann Collection

 

Duke Kahanamoku and his younger brother Sam relax during a break at the 1924 Olympic Games

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Underwood Photo Archives

Photo: Underwood Photo Archives

 

Duke Kahanamoku is widely considered the world's first waterman

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku practices his golf swing while surfing a wave, circa 1925

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

 

Duke Kahanamoku hits the golf ball on a beach somewhere in Southern California, circa 1925

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

 

Duke alongside his brothers Sargeant and Sam in 1929

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku surfing Waikiki with Diamond Head as a backdrop

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Underwood Photo Archives

Photo: Underwood Photo Archives

 

Duke Kahanamoku riding his hollow olo board in Waikiki in 1931

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Tom Blake

Photo: Tom Blake

 

The Big Kahuna carries his surfboard over his shoulder

Duke Kahanamoku

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku aboard the S.S. Mariposa on his way to the Los Angeles 1932 Summer Olympics

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Relaxing on the side after a swim in a Los Angeles pool in 1933

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. and John Roosevelt pictured with Duke Kahanamoku in 1934

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: FDR Library

Photo: FDR Library

 

Amelia Earhart and Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii, between December 1934 and January 1935

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Tom Blake and Duke Kahanamoku pose with the first longboard equipped with a fin, circa 1935

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Tom Blake/Croul Family Collection

Photo: Tom Blake/Croul Family Collection

 

A middle-aged Duke Kahanamoku contemplates the sights

"Duke

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku plays the ukulele with Helen Lachman and Carmen Molero in 1937

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Sargent Kahanamoku, Louis Kahanamoku, Sam Kahanamoku, Bill Kahanamoku (seated), Doris Duke, David Kahanamoku, and Duke Kahanamoku, circa 1937

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku wearing his white robe in 1938

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Rex Hardy Jr.

Photo: Rex Hardy Jr.

 

Charlie Chaplin, Duke Kahanamoku, and Paulette Goddard on board ship and waving at the fans in Hawaii in 1938

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Underwood Photo Archives

Photo: Underwood Photo Archives

 

Duke Kahanamoku, as Sheriff of Honolulu, was always in great shape in 1948

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation

Photo: Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation

 

The last photo Duke surfing on his 64th anniversary, August 24, 1954

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Clarence Maki

Photo: Clarence Maki

 

Duke Kahanamoku in a formal portrait, but always with his timeless smile

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

An older Kahanamoku sharing Aloha with his infectious smile

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Duke Kahanamoku and his signature smile

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

The Duke wearing a lei and a badge of the Royal Motor Yacht Club

Duke Kahanamoku | Photo: Photographer Unknown

Photo: Photographer Unknown

 

Read the best quotes by Duke Kahanamoku.

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