With every boy in a small Quebec town wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens to play hockey, one child is horrified when, because of a mail order mix-up, he is forced to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater.
Duke Kahanamoku was the twentieth century’s top waterman, and is known as the “father of international surfing.” The first Hawaiian to win an Olympic gold medal, Duke represented the United States in the Olympic Games in 1912, 1920, 1924 and 1932, winning gold, silver and bronze medals. Born in 1890, Duke grew up next to the ocean in Waikîkî. After school, he and his sister and brothers would hit the water. “I was only happy when I was swimming like a fish,” Duke said. Duke and the other beach boys gathered under a hau tree in Waikîkî. They rode the waves at Castles, a prime surf spot, on their sixteen-foot solid wooden surfboards. Years of swimming, surfing and canoe paddling made Duke a fine athlete. He had a strong body, long arms, powerful legs and his hands were said to be as big as buckets. Some claimed he had feet as big as fins and could steer a canoe with his feet alone. Duke knew that he was a very fast swimmer and he trained constantly. He said that God had given him a gift and a whip. “The whip,” he said with a grin, “is to flog myself into getting the most out of the gift.” He felt that, just maybe, he could be a champion and win Olympic gold for Hawai‘i. His chance came August 12, 1911, at Alakea Slip in Honolulu Harbor, when he demolished the world amateur record for the 100-yard freestyle. His excitement was crushed when mainland AAU officials refused to believe his time. “What are you using for stopwatches over there in Hawai‘i?” they asked. “Alarm clocks?” The AAU officials doubted that a virtually untrained swimmer could break a world record. It was up to Duke to prove he could go up against the world’s fastest swimmers and beat them. Along with his athletic accomplishments, Duke is remembered for his concern for others, humility in victory, courage in adversity and good sportsmanship.