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Duke Kahanamoku (Hawaiian)
Olympic Gold Medallist Swimmer and Father of International Surfing

      Father Of International Surfing To Be Honored On New Postage Stamp being issued ...

      Aug. 24 in honor of Duke Kahanamoku (WASHINGTON) - "Aloha," the Hawaiian greeting of love, will be riding the wave of letters and packages handled daily by the U.S. Postal Service when a new commemorative stamp is issued Aug. 24 in honor of Duke Kahanamoku, the legendary swimmer and Olympian who is best known as the father of international surfing.

      The dedication of the 37-cent Duke Kahanamoku stamp will be the centerpiece of a daylong public festival featuring water sports activities and a luau held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, 2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, Hawaii. The first day of issue ceremony for the stamp begins at 1:30 p.m. and will take place on the beachside of the resort on Duke Kahanamoku Beach.

      The ceremony starts with the arrival of the Bishop Museum's vessel "Hawaii Loa," sailed by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which will bring the first day ceremony delegation into Kalia Bay. Participants are expected to include Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Robert Rider, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, and representatives from the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation and the Kahanamoku family. The Bishop Museum is Hawaii's museum of cultural and natural history.

      "The Duke Kahanamoku stamp reminds us of the lasting, positive influence a talented individual and relatively unknown hero can have on our culture," said Rider.

      "That is one of the wonderful benefits of our nation's commemorative stamp program. When this stamp appears on letters and packages arriving at households and businesses throughout the country and across the Pacific, Duke's story of ingenuity and dedication can be told again and again," he said.

      Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was born Aug. 24, 1890, in Honolulu. As a swimmer, he first caught the attention of the public in 1911 when he broke the record for the 100-yard freestyle during an Amateur Athletic Union swim meet in Honolulu. Such an impressive performance by an unknown swimmer prompted speculation that he must have benefited from favorable currents in Honolulu Harbor, and the record was not accepted. Nonetheless, Kahanamoku subsequently proved his amazing swimming prowess, especially in several international competitions from 1912 to 1932.

      As a swimmer on the U.S. team during the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, Kahanamoku won a gold medal for the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 1:03.4 and a silver medal for the 800-meter relay. He also won medals in the 1920, 1924 and 1932 Olympic Games.

      Kahanamoku was particularly well known as a surfer. He is credited with popularizing the Polynesian sport by surfing throughout the world, especially on visits to the U.S. in 1912 and Australia from late 1914 to early 1915. In 1994 his name was placed on the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, Calif. In October 1999 Surfer magazine named him "Surfer of the Century" and his picture appeared on the cover of that month's issue.

      For most of his career, Kahanamoku was generally seen as Hawaii's unofficial goodwill ambassador to the rest of the world. He was an international celebrity and appeared in several Hollywood films. In 1934 he was elected sheriff of the city and county of Honolulu and was subsequently reelected until the position itself was discontinued in 1960. Thereafter, from 1961 until his death on Jan. 22, 1968, Kahanamoku served as Honolulu's official greeter.

      Kahanamoku's life gave rise to a number of fascinating stories and legends. In 1913 a California newspaper, the Long Beach Press, reported that he had wrestled a giant eel to death and lost the index finger on his right hand in the process. (However, photos of Kahanamoku taken throughout his life clearly show ten intact fingers.) In 1925, Kahanamoku became a true hero: When he saw a boat capsize off the coast of California, he bravely leapt into the ocean with his surfboard and saved the lives of eight people. Other stories about Kahanamoku attest to his surfing prowess: He is said to have ridden a tremendous wave more than a mile while surfing at Waikiki in 1929 or 1930, possibly one of the longest rides in surfing history.

      Among his many honors, Kahanamoku was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1965, and was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984. Various centers, foundations and competitions have been named for him, including the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex at the University of Hawaii and the Duke Kahanamoku Long Distance Canoe Race.       The portrait of Kahanamoku in the stamp art, an oil painting by Michael J. Deas of New Orleans, La.., is based on a 1918 photograph from the collection of the Bishop Museum. Behind Kahanamoku two surfers are depicted riding a wave at Waikiki Beach; Diamond Head is visible in the background. Carl Herrman, of Carlsbad, Calif., was the art director for the stamp.

      To see the Duke Kahanamoku stamp, visit and locate the online version of this press release by clicking on "News and Events" then "Philatelic News."

Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available toll free by calling 1 800 STAMP-24. In addition, a selection of stamps and other philatelic items are available in the Postal Store at

Read:   Dedication to Jim Thorpe and about his US Postage Stamp
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