Fred Hemmings (born January 9, 1946 in Honolulu, Hawaii) is a world-known surfer who served as a Republican member of the Hawaii Senate from the 25th District. Elected in 2000, he served as Senate Minority Leader from 2002 to 2010. Previously he was a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1984 through 1990. His retirement from the Senate leaves Sam Slom, a Honolulu attorney from the 8th District, as the only Republican in the 25-member body.
During the 1960s, Hemmings won the Makaha International Surfing Championships four times. He also won the Peruvian International Surfing Championships in 1964, and then from the surf of Rincon, Puerto Rico, the World Surfing Championship title in 1968. Hemmings was a steersman on four Molokai to Oahu Outrigger Canoe racing Champion teams, and to this day is a pioneer canoe surfing steersman. He attended Punahou School where he is an inductee of the Punahou School Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1991, Hemmings was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame, and in 1999 the Hawaii State Sports Hall of Fame.
Fred Hemmings, one of six children, was born on January 6, 1946 to Fred Sr. who was of English, Irish, French, Indian ancestry was originally from New York and came to Hawaii in 1922 and Lilian Frietas Hemmings,who was of Portuguese extraction, whose ancestors came to Hawaii to work on a sugar plantation in 1883. In early childhood, Fred and three other siblings contracted polio though enduring no permanent debilitation.
As a student at Punahou School, Hemmings excelled at football where he was a league all-star player on Punahou's 1964 championship football team.
Hemmings began surfing at the age of 8 at Waikiki. Four years later in 1958, Fred Hemmings began competing in surfing events. That year he placed 3rd in the Makaha International Surfing Championships in the junior men division. He placed first in the following years that he entered (1961, 1963, 1964 and 1966). He continued to enter surfing contests taking him as far as Peru, where he won the Peruvian International Championship. In 1968, Hemmings won the World Surfing Championship in Puerto Rico. After becoming the world's first true surfing champion from Hawaii, Hemmings retired from competitive surfing to focus on creating a new sports industry; promoting and marketing surfing as a viable professional sport.
In 1969, Hemmings produced the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships which became the defacto professional world championships. Hemmings created the Pipeline Masters surf competition in 1971 which is now the longest standing surf contest in the world. Enthralling national audiences, the competition was aired on ABC's Wide World of Sports.
Often, Hemmings found himself at odds with the surf culture, conflicting with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. He consistently spoke out against substance abuse in surfing.
Hemmings was a strong advocate for women in professional surfing. In 1975 Hemmings founded the World Cup of Surfing championships with events for both men and women. With dedicated persistence and corporate sponsorship backing the events, surfing competitions at legendary North Shore sites established a strong following and gained a national audience. All the major television networks took notice and broadcast the surfing events Hemmings produced nationally.
Hemmings continued to pursue his dream to make professional surfing a reality. In 1976 Hemmings co-founded, along with Randy Rarick, the organization of International Professional Surfers (IPS). IPS became the first professional surfing circuit, hosting 12 events around the world. Respecting Hawaii's legendary status in surfing, the tour was formatted so that at least three of the events were held in Hawaii. This organization became the forerunner to the Association of Surfing Professionals tour.
In 1983, Hemmings combined the Pipeline Masters, the Duke Classic at Sunset Beach and the World Cup of Surfing into the Triple Crown of Surfing. The Honolulu Advertiser heralded Fred Hemmings as the "father of professional surfing in Hawaii."
In 2010, he was invited by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to attend the Rip Curl Pro Search 2010, where he was honored for his 1968 championship.
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