Friends rally around son after Aussie surfing icon's tragic death

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, an old family photo of John Shimooka with his son Brandon.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for John Shimooka's son Brandon. Pic: GoFundMe

The sporting world was rocked this week by the tragic death of John Shimooka after the Aussie surfing icon's body was found in his Sydney home on Monday morning.

Known in surfing circles around the world as Shmoo, the 51-year-old left behind his 21-year-old son Brandon, as well as shattered family and friends.

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Ranked as high as 19th in the world in 1995 when he won a tour event in Japan, Shimooka was a legend on the tour in the late 1980s.

After moving to LA, struggling and admitting he ‘hit the bottom’ after partying, close mate and surfing legend Sunny Garcia convinced him to return to Hawaii and re-dedicate himself to surfing again.

Shimooka got back into shape and not long after him and Garica both made their final appearance on Tour at Bells Beach.

Surfing legend Kelly Slater is pictured here alongside Aussie icon John Shimooka.
Kelly Slater was left heartbroken by the death of his long-time friend, John Shimooka. Pic: Instagram

He then took up commentary and hosting.

Shimooka was loved within the community for his big personality and dedication to the sport.

He moved to Australia from Hawaii in the late 1990s.

The surfing icon had been working for Surfing NSW for the last three years and also held a black belt in Jiu Jitsu.

His death has been felt heavily in the Australian sporting community, with friends setting up a GoFundMe page to help provide for his son Brandon.

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Fundraiser set up for Shimooka’s son

At the time of writing, more than $47,000 had been raised towards a target of $60,000.

"The sudden and tragic passing of John Shimooka took many of us by surprise," read a tribute on the page.

"He was such a happy positive person who made an impact on every person he met. He was a loving husband, passionate surfer, Jiu jitsu Black Belt, and above all, a devoted father. Shmoo survives by his son Brandon who has already had so much to deal with at such a young age.

"We know that Shmoo would want us all to look after Brandon. We’d love for you to donate to this worthy cause. Please help us to help Brandon get through this difficult time. All proceeds are to go to Brandon Shimooka.

The lovely gesture followed an outpouring of tributes for the popular surfer, with 11-time champion Kelly Slater admitting his heart had been "ripped out" after hearing of his friend's death.

“My heart’s ripped out. I’m sorry, Shmoo. I thought we had this,” he wrote.

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The World Surf League tweeted they were “saddened” by the news and paid respect to Shimooka’s “major impact’ on the sport.

Surfing NSW said Shimooka's "energy and enthusiasm" would be sorely missed after confirming the sad news of his death on Monday.

“The team at Surfing NSW is deeply distressed at the passing of one of our own, John Shimooka, in the early hours of Monday morning,” it said.

“A talented former world tour surfer, commentator, Jiu Jitsu black belt and General Manager of Partnerships for Surfing NSW since 2018, “Shmoo” was a much loved member of the global surfing community and the Surfing NSW family.

“He will be remembered for his passion for the lifestyle as well as his energy and enthusiasm.”

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