Duke Kahanamoku: An Ordinary Man, Who Made An Impact

by Matthew Parsons from San Diego, California in United States

120785Duke kahanamoku

As the forty foot waves crashed onto the sandy beach, a nearby yacht fell down to the ocean's force. A Hawaiian man rushes to his one hundred pound surfboard and pes into the raging waters to save the distressed civilians. This man, Duke Kahanamoku, was born in Waikiki, Honolulu. He was a phenomenal swimmer from a young age and was a caring a passionate person. Duke was one of the few pure Hawaiians left and he was known for saving the Hawaiian culture and preserving its true beliefs.  A true hero possesses courage and selflessness. Duke Kahanamoku shows he's heroic by risking his life in order to save people on a sinking yacht that he didn't know. Also, He helped many though Difficult times and showed that an ordinary person can make a massive change.  Duke Kahanamoku, possessed courage and selflessness, therefore he is a heroic figure.

120786Duke in LAX for surfing hall of fame
Duke Kahanamoku was one of the most influential and important Hawaiian of his time. Duke helped many people in dangerous situations and pushed through other peoples negative opinions. In doing so, he continued on with what he truly loved.  Kahanamoku was filled with courage and for that, he is a hero. Duke, while conversing with friends on the beach, saw a sinking yacht and decided to help. “He and a group of friends saw a boat capsize during a fierce storm off the coast of southern California. Without hesitation, Kahanamoku grabbed his surfboard and, making three trips through violent waves, personally saved eight people in a disaster that claimed seventeen out of twenty-nine lives,” (Notable Asian American 10).  Kahanamoku and his friends during a fierce storm risked their lives in order to save those that had been put in danger. Furthermore, Duke risked his life to save others and this takes an immense amount of courage to do. Even though he could have died in the process of saving the people on the capsized boat, he still went through with his actions. In doing so, that is what makes him such a courageous hero. Despite Kahanamoku saving many lives on this yacht, he still did many courageous things, even though it didn't save lives.  While Duke was waiting in a restaurant, New York Times states, “As a Hawaiian, he was not immune from racial prejudice. Arriving once with fellow swimmers at a restaurant in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., he was told, ''We don't serve Negroes,” (New York Times 7).   As Duke walked into this restaurant, they wouldn't serve him because of his race.  Nevertheless, even though he was faced with prejudice, he kept pushing through it and continued doing what he loved, and for that, he possesses courage.  He kept doing what he wanted to do, even though people discriminated against him because of his race and that takes courage.  Coupled with these events, Duke faced many challenges and dangerous situations in his life. He was able to overcome them and this shows he has courage to beat these events. Duke, in his later life, was able to see that he should help others any way he could, even if he didn’t need courage to beat them.

120787Duke with his 100 pound surfboardhttps://www.westofnowhereDuke Kahanamoku didn't only have courage, he also helped people through rough times and gave back to the people who needed it. For this, he is a selfless man and this makes him a hero. He helped many through rough times and supported the people he loved and who were in need. Encyclopedia of World Biography states, “Kahanamoku trained American Red Cross volunteers in water lifesaving techniques and toured the nation with other American aquatic champions to raise funds for the Red Cross,” (Encyclopedia of World Biography 10). Since Duke couldn't swim in the Olympics, he decided to contribute to swimming any way he could. He donated his knowledge to the Red Cross and helped people save lives. Instead of using his time to improve on himself and worry about his needs, he saw the bigger purpose in his technique and ideas and decided to share them to make a difference. He, instead of sitting back and keeping this information to himself, used his knowledge to aid others, and for this he is selfless. Even with this astonishing contribution, Duke still made huge contributions to the United States. New York Times states again that, “He never actively trained swimmers, but could be depended on to give pointers to young men and women on how to improve their style,” (New York Times 25). Duke, after not able to compete because of his heart, decided to spend his time helping others and not caring about his own issues. This makes him selfless because he put others needs in front of his, and for that, he is a hero. He felt as if people's issues were more important than his, which is the definition of being selfless. In conclusion, Duke is a selfless person and devoted himself to helping people in need and helping people grow as humans. Because of this, he is a deserving hero.

120788Duke sharing with othershttps://theredlist.comKahanamoku was a courageous and a selfless man in his time. For those reasons, he is an honorable man.  He was a surfer, Olympic swimmer, and was filled with courage and ambition. He was born in the middle of the ocean and still was able to make a positive change and is a symbol to many that ordinary people, just like him, can make a positive change in the world. He inspired many to make a change and helped people realize that their issues aren't as important as they may seem, and they should strive to make others issues their own.  In the end, Duke helped many change the world with his positive attitude and good spirit. He helped many through difficult times and cared more about the people he loved rather than taking care of himself and his needs. In conclusion, he was one of the purest people of his time, and should always be remembered as a true hero.


Works Cited


"Duke Kahanamoku." Encyclopedia of World Biography, vol. 20, Gale, 2000. Biography in Context, Accessed 4 Feb. 2018.

"Duke Kahanamoku." Notable Asian Americans, edited by Helen Zia and Susan B. Gall, Gale, 1995. Biography in Context, Accessed 4 Feb. 2018.

Times, The New York. “Duke Kahanamoku, Legendary Surfer and Swimmer, Gets Google

Tribute.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Aug. 2015,


Worth, Robert F. "Of a Local Legend, Surfing, and How to Honor the Past." New York Times, 12 Apr. 2004, p. B2. Biography in Context, Accessed 4 Feb. 2018.


Page created on 2/14/2018 5:43:39 PM

Last edited 6/9/2018 4:17:52 PM

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