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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Happy Birthday Buttons Kaluhiokalani Surf & Skate Icon

Buttons Kaluhiokalani, Jeff Divine, Larry Bertlemann, Z-Boys, Greg Weaver
Buttons Kaluhiokalani was one of the precursor of rad skateboarder
maneuvers that were born within the waves and later transposed
on the concrete. He is part of the same skateboarding school
as Larry Bertleman and the Z-Boys.
Surfer Magazine listed Buttons Kaluhiokalani as one of the 50 greatest surfers of all time. Surfer Mag probably forgot about his skateboarding talent and left that to the companion SkateBoarder mazagine…

Jeff Divine once wrotes “There were no real top turns the way you see them today. But Buttons showed up and started spinning 360s, putting his board on an edge, breaking the fin free and trying airs. He’d busted the performance door down before the Aussies ever showed up.” Those were real skateboarding tricks years before pool riding was invented. And, at a time when we are celebrating the Ultimate Boardrider, a competition created in 2005 (and expected this coming week-end) to show that the skills of riding any board can translate to surfing, snowboarding or skateboarding, celebrating Button’s birthday is significant: he was one of the first top surfer to also excel at skateboarding…

By the age of nine, Buttons Kaluhiokalani already had a board of his own and was learning surfing in Waikiki with Reno Abellira, Barry Kanaiaupuni and Jeff Hakman.

By 1975, professional surfing was becoming a legitimate alternative. Buttons left McKinley High School prior to 11th grade to dive into surfing and skateboarding, for ever. On boards from Ben Aipa, his unpredictable style gained traction from the surfing world. At places like Velzyland and across Oahu's South Shore, Buttons and brahs Larry Bertlemann and Mark Liddel were turning the lineup into a liquid park and launching radical skateboard-inspired moves. Though commonplace today, tailslides and 360s (sometimes while riding within the barrel) were the inventions of these fun-loving skate-surfer innovators.

In his first pro event at age 17, he won the Pro Class Trials at Sunset, and other victories came at Malibu in 1979, Japan in 1982 and Peru in 1984. One of surfing's most colorful characters, he was featured on a segment of the hit television show "Real People", teaching host Sarah Purcell to surf and to speak pidgin. The highest he could ascend the ASP rankings was 27th in 1981, the same year he was called for interference in the semifinals of the Pipe Masters and stormed the officials' area with a group of heavy locals, prompting Director Randy Rarick to overrule the call in order to avoid violence.

Buttons is now running a surf school back on the North Shore. At 53, he shares the passion once a month by taking mentally and physically challenged kids surfing with Access Surf. He has also recently started tow-in surfing for when the waves are exceptionally big. He has re-married, and is the father of seven kids, and seven grandkids. Through it all, his motivations for surfing have never changed: "I wanted to be world champ, but it's just about having fun. And I want to spread the word."

He is not only an icon for surfers and skateboarders alike, but he still stands proud on any board.

For more info on Buttons, check out his interview on Liquid Salt and look for the film Stylemasters directed by Greg Weaver and Sypder Wills. Filmed in the mid to late 70′s, Stylemasters is a time capsule of North Shore surfing during the evolution of the short board. It features jaw dropping footage of Buttons. His athleticism is stunning, and his riding is from outer space!

Happy Birthday Buttons!

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Tuesday, March 29, 2011 




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