Waianae’s premiere Hawaiian waterman who has mastered all ocean disciplines from surfing to fishing to sailing the double-hulled canoe Hokule’a.
Richard “Buffalo” Kalolo’okalani Keaulana
Born: September 2, 1934; Auld Lane, Honolulu
Parents: Abraham Keaulana and Mary Phoebe Mahi
School Education: Like Like Elementary School, Waialua Elementary, Nanakuli Intermediate, 1946; Hawaii Maritime Academy-1978, where, according to Buffalo, “I had the best teacher in my life. He could turn long words into common sense, and he made the time for me.” That teacher was Capt. Bob Alverson
Family: Married Evangeline Leimomi Whaley, Nov.6, 1960 at St. Augustine Church in Waikiki.
Children: Brian, Jodie, Lehua, Russ, and James; hanai Keoni and Stanley
Work Experience: Two years of U.S. Army, lifeguard service at Hale’iwa; 1954,55.
34 years of City County lifeguard service at Makaha Surfing Beach: Nov. 18, 1960 to Dec. 31, 1968 live-in park keeper at Makaha Beach and volunteer lifeguard.
Feb 14, 1969 Honolulu Mayor Neal Blaisdell created a permanent full-time lifeguard position for Buffalo at Makaha Beach, where he continued to work for 25 years until he retired in Aug. 31, 1994
One of the many rescues Buffalo made during his 34 years of service at Makaha occurred in 1966 during a large winter swell between 10 to 15 feet. Buffalo’s friend Texas oilman Carlton Beal, got hit by his own board in the groin, and did not resurface after a wiping out on a large wave. Buffalo saw the incident while paddling out in the channel. Buffalo immediately paddled over to where he thought Beal would be carried by the ocean currents. He dove down and found Beal blocked out and curled up in pain on the ocean floor. He grabbed Beal by his hair in order to get him off the bottom. Then on the way up, he held Beal around the waist. Buffalo swam Beal to the surface and hoisted him on another friend’s surfboard. Beal recovered from the incident. In gratitude for Buffalo saving his life, Beal funded the building of Buffalo’s house on his mother’s Hawaiian homestead land in Nanakuli.
1996 to present: Memeber of the Screen Actor’s Guild Lifeguard for film “WaterWorld,” role in “In God’s Hands,” main actor in Bud Light beer commercial.
Surfing Honors: 1954,1956,1957,1958-- Body surfing champion at the Makaha International Surfing Championship, which at the time was considered the most prestigious surfing contest in the world. The first two championships, Keaulana surfed for the U.S. Army surf team.
1960-- Won surfboard division at Makaha International Surfing Championships. Also won numerous other smaller contests at Makaha including the first Mabo Royal Surfing Championship.
1965-- Selected to the Hawaii surfing team, which traveled to Peru for the World Surfing Championship in Lima.
1977-- Founded Buffalo’s Big Board Surfing Classic at Makaha. A contestant dedicated to Hawaiian cultural revival of surfing, bodysurfing, paipo, tandem, canoe surfing, and most recently stand-up paddle surfing and, in 2009 the Alaia Board Division. The event has included a Royal Hawaiian Court, Hula halau exhibitions, and numerous top Hawaiian entertainment.
1987-- Began worldwide travel to perpetuate his style of Hawaiian surfing. While Japan has hosted his surf contest in Shonan 10 times; Buffalo has also traveled to Costa Rica, France, Bali, Australia, and Tahiti.
2005-- Inducted into California’s Surfing Hall of Fame. Also honored as one of 100 Outstanding Citizens at City of Honolulu centennial celebration.
Ocean Experience: At 12 years old, Buffalo started spear fishing. With no money to buy school lunch, Buffalo would often spear fish during school lunch break and take what he caught to the cooks in the school cafeteria. His fishing generosity is renown. He also practices the Hawaiian tenet, “Take only what you need.”
1977-- Founded a series of spear fishing contests at Makaha and Kauai. He received help from Norman Mau and Boogie Kalama.
1959-- Lanai to Lahaina paddle board race. Placed second behind Nappy Napoleon.
1968-- Captained first power-boat water safety patrol for Duke Kahanamoku International Surfing Championship at Sunset Beach. He went on to patrol another contest such as the Smirnoff International at Makaha and Sunset. Also took out cameramen for ABC Wide World of Sports to film surfing contests up close for nationwide television shows.
1976-- Steersman and watch captain for maiden voyage of Polynesian sailing canoe Hokule’a from Maui to Tahiti.
Currently-- Captains power fishing boat, the Akoni, as well as a four-man motor/sailing canoe.
At 74 years old, Buffalo continues to surf every chance he gets.