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King of the Sea

BY Beastie Boys’ Mike D | August 4, 2016 | Feature Celebrity Features

Surf wunderkind and budding photographer and filmmaker John John Florence has been crushing it since he was a kid. Now 23, he continues to enthrall viewers—both on the board and behind the camera. Beastie Boys' Mike D catches up with the professional surfer.
COWABUNGA! John John Florence getting barrelled in West Oz

The No. 2 ranked surfer in the world, John John Florence grew up on the North Shore of Oahu, known as the Seven Mile Miracle—a mecca for the world’s top surfers with a wave that all others are judged by, Pipeline. It’s here that he retreats to when not visiting one of the 11 World Surf League tour surf spots with his two brothers, Nathan and Ivan—also big-wave surfers—and mother, Alex. As a toddler, Florence was paddling out behind his mom, who surfs and skates, and encouraged him every step of the way. It wasn’t long before he was sponsored by O’Neill, at the age of 6, and starred in a popular PlayStation surf video. By 13, he was the youngest surfer to compete in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and commonly called the next Kelly Slater. Today, at 6 foot 2 inches tall and 170 pounds, he ranks among the top 1 percent of earning surfers, and he’s runner-up to Matt Wilkinson in the World Surf League title, surpassing the young Brazilian phenom Gabriel Medina. While his surfing has gone to incredible places and he is arguably the best surfer in the world, he still maintains an essential humbleness. “Growing up on the North Shore of Hawaii usually breeds a real tough guy,” as his manager Pete Johnson has said. “John John and his brothers haven’t bought into that. I’ve never seen him get mad at anybody in the water. They get by on a smile and obeying the rules. I think they’ve been traveling so much since they were really young that it’s leveled a lot of that out. John John’s a nice, polite, likable guy. He’s not stuck-up or cocky. He’s almost the opposite of that.”

Beastie Boy Mike D—himself an avid surfer when he’s not making music—checks in with the Oahu native on location at the J-Bay Open, in Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa, where he was the runner-up in the World Surf League event this July. –Cristina Cuomo

Photography Courtesy Of: