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Surfer's Walk of Fame to Induct Tiger Makin

The Hermosa native says he's "totally stoked" about the honor. The ceremony will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. on the Hermosa pier.

You can take the surfer out of Hermosa, but you can't take the Hermosa out of the surfer.

This Saturday at 11 a.m. during Hermosa Beach's annual Legends of Surf Weekend, Tiger Makin, a 58-year-old surfing legend, will be inducted into the Surfer's Walk of Fame on the Hermosa pier.

Makin said he is "totally stoked." Like his predecessors, Makin will be immortalized with a bronze plaque cemented into the walkway along the pier.

"There are seven panelists and they have a set of criteria they use to select the inductee," said Mindy Brown, recreation specialist in the community resources department. "There were 34 applicants this year, and every panelist votes for their top four. We usually have two inductees or more, but this year it was across the board to just select Tiger."

Makin lives in Hawaii, but he grew up yelling "cowabunga" in front of the Strand on Longfellow Avenue. During his career spanning the 1960s to 2003, Makin surfed with legends such as Dru Harrison, Mike Purpus and Mike Stevenson. He competed on teams such as Jacobs, Rick, Bing and Petrillo Surfboards.

"I was 12 years old when I started surfing," Makin said. "We lived down by the beach, and my sister would help me carry my surfboard after school until I was big enough to carry it myself. Then I went every day."

Makin is known for his aggressive surfing style and his megawatt smile. His outgoing attitude landed him his nickname at a young age.

"I got my name in kindergarten," Makin said. "I guess I was aggressive on the playground, and the recreation lady named me Tiger. That stuck forever. My real name is James, but if you called me James on the street I wouldn't even perk an ear."

Aggressive on the playground and on the waves, Makin employs an old-school approach to surfing rarely seen today.  He was known for his power and the way he would "smack the lip" of the wave.

Dennis Jarvis, founder of SpyderSurf Boardshops and sponsor of the Legends of Surf Weekend and Spyder Surf Fest, said he was more than happy to see the "real deal" inducted into the Surfer's Walk of Fame.

"When I heard Tiger was going to be inducted, I thought: 'Finally a person who has really brought something to the sport, and the South Bay is being recognized,' " Jarvis said. "In the past, someone inducted into the Walk of Fame would be an all-around water man, not necessarily a legendary surfer. I was ecstatic to see Tiger being inducted into the Walk of Fame. It makes us proud to say we're involved with this event."

Jarvis, also a surfer, recalled that he was "star-struck" when he met Makin. " I was 13 years old, and I had been reading about him for years in surfing magazines so I was in awe of his celebrity," Jarvis remembers. " I walked up to him and said, 'Hi, Tiger. I'm Dennis.' He ruffled my hair and said something like, 'OK, dude,' or whatever the slang was at the time for surfers. That was a magic moment. He was a rock star."

In the '60s and '70s, surfing wasn't the $70-billion industry it is today. Makin rode waves in competitions that were the first of their kind in Malibu and Redondo Beach, but the payouts weren't as sweet as the notoriety.

"Guys like Tiger would surf in these competitions when I was a kid and get pennies for these death-defying moves," Jarvis said. "They had to hold down regular jobs because pro surfing wasn't what it is today."

Makin has noticed a difference between his childhood surfing habits and those of youth today.

"My grandson Cale, who's 10 years old, surfs all the time and he's pretty good, but kids these days have so much else going on," Makin said. "I don't remember spending more than five minutes sitting in the house when I was a kid, and now they have all of these games. I was always outside."

One of Makin's proudest moments was when he received a bid to surf in the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational in Hawaii in the 1970s.

"I didn't do too well, but it was an honor just to be invited," Makin said. "I did better in the following years. I went so much as a little kid and watched these legendary surfers. I was lucky to have parents who made that possible."

Family time is what hits the jackpot for Makin now.

"About three or four years ago, me and my family went to Sunset Beach," Makin recalled. "My wife and I would trade off watching the kids. I would go surfing while she watched them, then we'd switch. It was a time when we didn't have to worry about anything."

These days Makin is nursing a bad hip and "hobbles around," but the future is as wide as the ocean for this Hermosa Beach legend.

"All of our kids are getting old, so we might do some traveling," Makin said. "We might go surf around the world. Who knows?"

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