Kelly Slater has led the outpouring of tributes for Aussie surfing legend John Shimooka, known as Shmoo, after the 51-year-old was found dead in his Sydney home on Monday morning.
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.
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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.
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.
NSW surfing confirmed his death on Monday in a statement.
“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.”
Kelly Slater leads tributes for ‘Schmoo’
Surging icon Slater led the tributes and posted a photo of the pair.
“My heart’s ripped out. I’m sorry, Shmoo. I thought we had this,” he wrote.
The World Surf League tweeted they were “saddened” by the news and paid respect to Shimooka’s “major impact’ on the sport.
The WSL is saddened to learn of the passing of John Shimooka. A former CT surfer, industry executive, commentator, and coach, he made a major impact on the surfing world. Our hearts are with his family and friends. RIP John (1969 - 2020). pic.twitter.com/GgYzQcbYQG
— World Surf League (@wsl) November 16, 2020