Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana Patriarchal Hawaiian
Surfer/Lifesaver and Son of MakahaIt’s good to be
the Mayor of Makaha, especially when you’ve given
rise to a West Side dynasty now in its third generation.
Richard Keaulana was born (1935) in Honolulu, his family
settling in Makaha while he was still a young boy. He
learned to surf in the gentle rollers off Waikiki, eventually
graduating to the level of beachboy during the 1950s.
Dubbed “Buffalo” by friends due to a large
head covered in copious amounts hair the color of adobe,
he was considered one of Hawaii’s most naturally-talented
surfers. His smooth style, switch-stance skills and nose
for the pocket made him an annual favorite at the Makaha
International contest, an event he won in 1960 (Keaulana
captured six top four finishes in the contest between
1957 and 1965). Built with the sturdy frame of a Polynesian
warrior, he was also considered by many at the time--including
Greg Noll--to be the world’s best bodysurfer.
Buffalo and The ActivEmpire's Leila Endersby at the
2003 Quiksilver ASP Masters held at Buffalo's Makaha.
consummate waterman, Keaulana was named Makaha’s lifeguard
chief in 1969, a position he managed for the next two and
a half decades (in 1972 local officials erected a statue in
his honor in front of a library near Makaha). Buffalo’s
Big Board Classic—a surf contest and beach party held
at Makaha is now in its 28th year and has become a community
mainstay. Two of his six children have gone on to noteworthy
careers in surfing: Brian, a world class waterman and big
wave surfer; and Rusty, a three-time world longboard champion
PHOTO:Induction day 2005
Buffalo & Leroy Grannis