Waterman is the first comprehensive biography of Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968): swimmer, surfer, Olympic gold medalist, Hawaiian icon, waterman.
Kahanamoku emerged from the backwaters of Waikiki to become America’s first superstar Olympic swimmer. The original “human fish” set dozens of world records and topped the world rankings for more than a decade. Kahanamoku used his Olympic renown to introduce the sport of “surf-riding,” an activity unknown beyond the Hawaiian Islands, to the world. No American athlete has influenced two sports as profoundly as Kahanamoku did, and yet he remains an enigmatic and underappreciated figure: a dark-skinned Pacific Islander who encountered and overcame racism and ignorance long before the likes of Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson.
Kahanamoku’s connection to his homeland was equally important. He was born when Hawaii was an independent kingdom; he served as the sheriff of Honolulu during Pearl Harbor and World War II and as a globetrotting “Ambassador of Aloha” afterward.
In Waterman award-winning journalist David Davis examines the remarkable life of Duke Kahanamoku, in and out of the water.