Five Things You Should Know About The 2016 Quiksilver Pro Champion
Son of a third-degree karate blackbelt and more.
A few days after Keanu Asing qualified for the World Tour in dramatic circumstances at eight-to-ten foot Sunset Beach, I sat with him over lunch at the iconic Pupekea Grill on the Kam Highway. Surrounded by photos of modern day Hawaiian royalty on the walls – Kala Alexander, Kahea Hart, Sunny Garcia, Jamie O’Brien, and so on – Keanu was feeling it. “I want to be a hero to the younger Polynesian kids. I want them to say, ‘I wanna be like Keanu Asing’. I wanna open their eyes, I wanna give them hope,” he’d told me. Here are five more things you should know about the current Quiksilver Pro, France, Champion.
He is the first native Hawaiian to win a world tour event since Sunny Garcia in the year 2000
Despite the abundance of Hawaiian surfers at the top of the World Tour it’s easy to forget that few of those have been of native Hawaiian (polynesian) heritage. By winning the Quicksilver Pro, France, yesterday became the first native Hawaiian to win a World Tour event since Sunny Garcia in 2000 (the same year he won the World Title).
“Being Polynesian, being Hawaiian, runs deep into my blood. Nobody notices that surfing came from Hawaii. Duke Kahanamoku was the guy who brought it to the world and he was an ambassador of his sport, and people sometimes forget about Duke and for me that’s one of the greatest all-time heroes ever. Him being Hawaiian, me being Hawaiian, this being the birthplace of surfing, me representing Hawaii as its own country, is so special to me. I feel like I’m a leader of the Hawaiian culture, you know,” says Keanu, adding:
“I wanna be a hero one day to the younger Polynesian kids that wanna be surfers. I wanna be like that. I want them to say, ‘I wanna be like Keanu Asing’ one of the few Polynesian guys who’ve made it onto the world tour. I wanna give those kids hope and show that Hawaii has some of the best athletes,” he says.
Like Sunny, he comes from a rough, low socioeconomic neighbourhood on Oahu’s south-side
The predominately Polynesian (native Hawaiian) neighbourhood of Ewa is subject to a long list of social ills (alcohol and drug abuse, violence, unemployment), says Keanu. ”People don’t come from a lot of money so you know there’s a lot of drug-affiliated, drinking-affiliated – just things that could definitely take you down the wrong path,” he says.
His father is a third degree karate black belt and five-time Hawaiian state karate champion
Whatever forces were pulling Keanu down the wrong path they were counteracted by his father, a five-time state karate champion and third-degree black belt.
Keanu’s father knows how mean the streets of Oahu can be, growing up in Kailua on the island’s east side. The discipline of karate was what pulled him out of a life of brutality. Measured violence, or at least the threat of it, became Keanu’s father’s livelihood when he took up a job as the doorman at the Ala Moana Resort nightclub. It was here Keanu’s parents met with his mother working at the reception desk downstairs. One of his father’s best friends is the legendary Hawaiian shaper, Wade Tokoro of Local Motion surfboards, whose crafts Keanu rides to this day.
“Our relationship is strong and tight. I believe that you can get good boards from anybody, but I think the relationship is deeper than that, and for Wade to know me since I was a little kid, he watched me grow as my surfing grew, you know. He’s been there since day one,” he says.
His girlfriend can beat the shit out of you (and him)
When Kailan Curran and Keanu Asing met each other both had only just embarked on their respective professional sporting journeys – Kailan as an Mixed Martial Arts fighter and Keanu as a WQS surfer. Their relationship has proven a winning one with Kailan since signing to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Keanu now a World Tour event winner. “She keeps me on my toes, eating healthy, training, and just waking up everyday to be stronger and better,” he says.
On December 3rd Kailan (4-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) will face UFC newcomer Jamie Moyle (3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a “must-win” fight at Las Vegas’s Palm Casino Resort.
He is part of one of the great Hawaiian youth movements
Under the Hawaiian/American competitive youth surfing structure, Keanu found himself up against the likes of John John Florence, Carissa Moore, Sebastian Zietz, Mason Ho, Dusty Payne, Clay Marzo, and Albee Layer in state-wide contests as young as eight (Carissa used to beat them all in the early years he says).
Later he fell under the tutelage of pretty much every great Hawaiian surfer you can name from the modern era, including Andy Irons, whom he met through mutual former-sponsor Billabong, and Sunny Garcia. When Sunny heard Keanu had qualified for the Tour he slammed on the breaks in the middle of the Kam Highway and ran across to hug Keanu. “Sunny was my hero growing up. Having him be there and be that excited for me especially being my hero is so motivating. I text him daily and he just told me, ‘man, whatever you need, if you have any questions, you need me for anything I’m always here,'” he says.
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