"Buttons" Kaluhiokalani: the iconic progressive surfer of the 70s

June 1, 2012 | Surfing
Montgomery 'Buttons' Kaluhiokalani: the peaceful surfer | Photo: Jeff Divine

Montgomery "Buttons" Kaluhiokalani is a surf legend.

The boy with the open smile blew the 1970s with a set of surf lines and maneuvers, which were featured in the timeless surf movie "Many Classic Moments."

Kaluhiokalani was born on the North Shore, in Hawaii, on March 30, 1958. He started surfing at Waikiki when he was seven years old.

After experiencing the first waves in a paipo board, Buttons tried the first tricks, like his famous switchfoot move.

His famous African hair was a trademark, and surf photographer Jeff Divine captured his iconic finger peace sign picture.

At 21, he won Sunkist Malibu Pro and surfed the Pipe Masters and the Sunset World Cup.

As an amateur surfer, Montgomery Kaluhiokalani collected 100 wins in his career.

Montgomery 'Buttons' Kaluhiokalani: the quiver of an Hawaiian surf legend

A Classic Innovator

Eddie Rothman once called him the innovator of modern-day surfing.

Buttons was the first to perform a carving 360 on film, and his pocket surfing and skateboard-inspired maneuvers were relevant surfing revolutions.

Later, "Buttons" had problems with drugs. Fortunately, he recovered and decided to live another life.

He founded the Buttons Surf School and taught kids how to ride waves.

At 51, "Buttons" Kaluhiokalani was towed into a big wave at Teahupoo, Tahiti.

The progressive surfer had seven kids and, in his last years, he enjoyed quiet family life. His favorite surf spot was Backyards, in the Oahu's North Shore.

Kaluhiokalani passed away on November 3, 2013.

Watch Montgomery "Buttons" Kaluhiokalani featured in the "Many Classic Moments" surf movie.