Joined OCC: September 29, 1953
Elected to Winged “O”: March 1976
John McMahon was born on January 14, 1923 in one of the most famous boroughs in America—Brooklyn, New York. He realized that the traffic and smog were getting pretty rough in Fun City way back in the 30s, so rumor has it that he hopped on a slab of plywood in New York Harbor and by the time he reached Venice, California, he was an accomplished surfer, swimmer and diver.
He was a lifeguard and stuntman and soon participated in Olympic tryouts in water polo and diving. A trip to Hawaii for swimming competition was all John needed to convince him to stay, so he sold his return ticket and remained in Hawaii.
John became an Outrigger member in 1953 and was the guiding light of our surfing program both at the Club and in the State of Hawaii. He was one of the original innovators and organizers of the first major surfing contest anywhere in the world, including the Makaha Surfing Classic. He contributed a major portion of his time toward instituting an active Surfing Committee in the Club, a committee which single handedly kept the sport of surfing an important element of our athletic program.
The Peruvian International Surfing Championship saw John carrying the banner of the OCC. There he was a guest, judge and darling of the senoritas. His work with the Club championships each year made the contest thrilling and smooth-running, without the usual snafus of a surfing contest. A frequent winner himself through the years, he was often found in the largest waves, out-surfing and outmaneuvering younger surfers off and on the beach.
It would be safe to say that without John’s concern for young people at the OCC, our surfing program would not be what it is today.
Following John’s death in May 1980, the Club established the John McMahon Perpetual Outstanding Junior Surfer Award which is awarded annually to the Club’s outstanding male and female junior surfer.