Sunday, September 18, 2005


The Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki was sculpted by Jan Gordon Fisher. It was dedicated in 1990, on the 100th anniversary of Kahanamoku's birth.

Duke Kahanamoku
honored by statue

If you're going to create a statue of a Hawaiian legend, make sure you can put leis on it, because people are going to do it. The Waikiki statue of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, with arms spread wide welcoming people into the ocean, is a natural lei stand, particularly around his birthday in late August.

Does Duke Paoa Kahanamoku need an introduction? The legendary athlete was born in Waikiki and never moved far -- even running a gas station there -- but it seemed as though he sprang out of the ocean. The first international swimming star, winning three gold, two silver and one bronze medal in four Olympics before 1922, Kahanamoku was the personification of the Hawaiian culture worldwide.

No one did more to make Hawaii real or to introduce surfing to the rest of the globe's beaches.

Naturally, he also became a Hollywood actor, ran for office and served as a lawman.

The statue was dedicated in 1990 on the 100th anniversary of the Duke's birth. It was sculpted by Jan Gordon Fisher -- some sources say Jan-Michelle Kaiulani Sawyer, but no -- who also created other cool works around town, such as those works of Robert Wilcox and Princess Kaiulani, and that swirly thing in front of Radford High School.

Nearby, in Kuhio Beach Park, are the "Wizard Stones" of Kapaemahu, representing four Hawaiians of legend -- Kapaemahu, Kahaloa, Kapuni and Kinohi -- healers who came to Hawaii from afar.

"X Marks the Spot" is a weekly feature documenting historic monuments and sites around Oahu. Send suggestions to xspot@starbulletin.com

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