WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku was born 127 years ago this week. He passed away near 50 years ago. But his spirit was celebrated with five local ocean sports champions who were inducted into the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation's Waterman Hall of Fame.
The five were honored at the induction banquet Thursday night at the Outrigger Canoe Club.
"It's not just about their sporting and their athletic achievements, but it's also really about the aloha spirit," said event organization Bill Pratt.
This year's inductees includes canoe racing world champions and brothers John and Jim Foti.
"Today I just hope that he would look at the stuff that we're doing and what we've put into the sport," said Jim Foti at the induction banquet.
Three time Molokai Hoe canoe racing champion Tim Guard actually got his first surfing lesson in Waikiki from Kahanamoku himself.
"So Duke picks up this board that looked like an aircraft carrier. And we went out and surfed for a couple of hours and I was totally hooked," said Guard.
Kahanamoku was a competitive swimmer and an Olympic medalist. Olympic swimmer and inductee Pokey Watson Richardson took home the gold medal in the 1964 and 1968 games.
"Any time you can be associated with the great Duke Kahanamoku and his love for competitive swimming and his life of the ocean sports, it's a real honor to be included in this auspicious group," said Richardson.
The late Tommy Holmes, one of the co-founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Some inductees were able to look at a Waikiki that the Duke may no longer recognize, with the Natatorium -- where he once swam -- deteriorating. And sand being swept away by erosion.
"I'm sure there's things that he would love and there's things he'd be upset about, but the spirit of this place is still what it is," said John Foti.
"Man, you look at Waikiki and it is a little appalling, what's taken place," said Guard. "But life goes on. We still have the beautiful Pacific."