The Toughest Fucking Man in Surfing – Kala Alexander
It was ass-whipping of the winter. The Scene: ten feet of pure, ball-wrenching Pipe. Out there, exactly 80 surfers climbed over one another for sets while, shoulder-to-shoulder, photographers stood behind 100 tripods burning a king’s ransom of Fuji Velvia. Braden Dias was there occupying his usual spot at the top of the food chain. Business […]
It was ass-whipping of the winter. The Scene: ten feet of pure, ball-wrenching Pipe. Out there, exactly 80 surfers climbed over one another for sets while, shoulder-to-shoulder, photographers stood behind 100 tripods burning a king’s ransom of Fuji Velvia. Braden Dias was there occupying his usual spot at the top of the food chain.
Business as usual.
Then some poor, mad fool really blew it.
There are some people you absolutely do not drop in on, or even paddle for the same wave as, at Pipeline and Braden is one of those people. This ding-dong, a Brazilian, didn’t do his homework. On an eight-foot beast, the dude stuffed the shit out of Braden, taking off as Braden negotiated a thick barrel. A frenzy erupted at the beachfront Volcom house. The infamous whistle began blowing, indicating a major foul in the lineup. Kala and some other guys bolted from the Volcom house and dragged the guy out of the shorebreak. The man’s eyes were popping out of his head. He begged for mercy. Not today, dude. Kala, who’d been watching some professional wrestling on pay TV, picked the guy up and slammed him to the sand twice. Then he put the hurt on him with a haymaker punch that launched the guy off his feet and back into the sand. Photographers ate it up (although Kala later called every magazine and told them not to run anything). Tourists were horrified. Standing on the beach ready to paddle out, I suddenly had reservations about entering the brutal arena. But, you know what? The rest of the year I didn’t see too many drop-ins at Pipeline. Seems the sacrificial lamb let everybody know the repercussions of a stuffing on one of the boys. Says Kala of the episode: “I just want people to know that I have nothing against Brazilians. I just have a problem with stupid people who endanger my friends.” Are you gonna argue with that? Physically, Kala is not a big guy. He stands a couple of inches under six feet and hits the scales at 75 kgs. Packed onto that frame, however, is a network of cabled sinew and muscle and a rock-like attitude that comes straight from the volcanoes that formed the Hawai’ian Islands. Covered in traditional and non-traditional tattoos alike, he is an imposing figure. But it’s not the tattoos that do it. It’s his jet black eyes. The guy has a glare that weakens the knees and causes butterflies in the stomach. Paddle out at V-Land and hassle him for a wave if you don’t believe me. I used to have an irrational fear of Kala Alexander. Irrational because he was always polite when I saw him around the North Shore. Whether it was working the door at house parties making sure everybody was having a good time, running the show at the infamous Volcom house, or clearing the lineup of kooks and idiots at Pipeline, Kala was cool. But there was that one time… It was early in the morning, in the alley between Pipeline and Ehukai, the first day of the Hansen Energy Pro held at Pipe. Because Pipe was lCHo-12-feet plus and looking absolutely deadly, you could feel the tension and apprehension in the air. Johnny Boy Gomes, head shaven and weighing-in close to 120kg was pacing around glaring at anybody who worked up the nerve to look at him. The vibe was heavy. Coming down the road I saw what I thought was my friend’s car and I made a weird face at him – you know, breaking the ice, lightening up the mood on such a crazy day. I should have known by the tinted windows and Da Hui stickers that it wasn’t Benji’s car, but that of the main enforcer on the North Shore, someone who you don’t make a stupid face at – Kala Alexander. Kala hit the brakes and started screaming.
“What, you motherfucker? What are you lookin’ at?” I walked faster, hid behind a tree, took off my shirt, switched my hat around and didn’t look back. Luckily for me, he had a heat coming up and didn’t have time to reach into my chest and tear out my palpitating heart.
Enforcers are nothing new in Hawai’i or anywhere else in the world where the waves are good enough to fight over. You know the names: Johnny Boy, Dane Kealoha, Sunny, the list goes on, filled with guys you don’t fuck with. Without these types, waves like Pipeline, crowded and dangerous enough as it is, would be infested with delusional beginners, wankers, and wannabes. Enforcers are necessary, so we may as well learn how to live with ’em.
I recorded this interview at the US Open in Huntington Beach, California, where silicone titties, pit bulls, skinheads and other dregs of California society meet the surf. World Champ Andy Irons, normally bothered by my pestering, got this huge smile on his face when I told him I was doing a Kala interview. Perhaps Andy said it best. “Kala is a good guy to have on your side”.
When were you born?
March 20th, 1969. The year of the biggest swell ever.
Where do you live?
I live in Eddie Rothman’s (original North Shore enforcer) guest house. I live right below Kaiborg (fellow Kauai boy and heavyweight jui-jitsu fighter Kai Garcia). in the Sunset Beach area.
So, you guys don’t get messed with much over there?
Exactly. Nobody fucks around in our neighborhood. Eddie and Makua live in the front house and you don’t wanna fuck with them. We’ve got a pretty heavy neighborhood and we got it locked down.
How did the Kauai boys take over the North Shore?
Over in Oahu. it’s glamour. People are getting sponsored, there’s groupies and shit. We grew up in Kauai and we do it because we love it. So we’re hungry. We come over to Oahu and we see all this free product, all this shit, and we’re just blown away and take full advantage of it. Our mentality is just more tough, more hungry, more real. We’d be surfing if there was no money, no cameras, no chicks. That’s why I think Bruce and Andy are just killing it, because it’s what they love to do. We come over to Oahu and we’re like kids in a candy store, it’s like Hollywood. We stand by our principles. We’re not posers, not to say guys in Qahu are posers, it’s just so mainstream. Maybe it’s something in the air or the water. All my friends are nuts. All my Kauai boys are really tapped out.
I would have to agree.
You haven’t met ’em all yet, Justin. Shit bra, there’s some pretty crazy fuckers over there. And you know what? There’s some more coming. This winter is gonna be nuts.
So, you’re the team captain for Da Hui?
Yes, I’m the team captain for Da Hui. the most notorious surf gang in the islands (half joking/mostly serious).
Do you remember your first fight?
One of the first fights I remember was probably in the second grade. This kid was twice as big as me and I think he cut in line or something. We didn’t have much growing up, we were poor. Because of that, I had a low opinion of myself, so I didn’t care if I won or lost. I would just fight. But I got good at it because of that attitude and got in more rights and got more experience. Next thing you know, I was good at it so I wasn’t afraid of too many people. I prefer to go out and have a good time, meet some fine young ladies you know, have a good night. But somebody has to step up when it counts, especially if my friends are in trouble or somebody is jeopardising their safety. I’m not gonna hold back.
Has that kind of mentality ever landed you in any kind of trouble?
Yeah, a little bit. But I’ve found that as long as you’re right, a lot of times things work out. I’m still learning to be more disciplined as a person. Everybody is still learning. Every day of your life you learn. I make mistakes, but right now I don’t have anything over my head – I don’t have any court cases. I’m just out there trying to support my kids. I give everybody a chance.
Full Article in Stab Magazine – Issue 01 – March / April 2004
Story by Justin Cote.
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