Associate Editor

John John poses for the summer issue of GQ. Photo: GQ/Mahaney

The Inertia

John John Florence is what you might call a people’s champ. Known equally for his all-around progressive approach as his humility, his coronation at the end of last year was long overdue. Still, expected as it was, that didn’t stop zealous fans from showing up in droves lining the Kamehameha Highway upon the champ’s return home – graffiti of John’s face with “Da Champ” written beneath can still be seen along parts of the Kam Highway.

It’s no surprise that more mainstream outlets have gotten wind of John’s popularity and chosen to capitalize on it – most recently men’s fashion magazine, GQ.

Unlike typical GQ features, the John John profile (titled: “Surfer John John Florence’s Very Wavy World“) isn’t subtly trying to hock $400 wingtips and $175 button downs. After all, how could it pissing off some execs at Hurley, much less feeling totally unnatural?

The profile is what you’d expect from someone who admittedly, “[doesn’t] know much about surfing,” but respectable in that it sheds new light on the transition of John John from talented surfer to cunning competitor. Writes author Zach Baron:


“Losing even added to the myth: Some of his peers said he hadn’t won because he didn’t really want to. (The actual truth, according to John John, was very different: For a while, he was having so much trouble coping with the losses that he couldn’t win. “I had to learn how to lose,” he says. After that, the victories came easy.)”

To say learning how to win required learning how to lose is, of course, a little cliché. But it also points to John’s humility. Baron also points to an interesting dichotomy in the life of the champ:

“He’s got this modest little life, the same one he’s always had, here on Hawaii’s North Shore, and then this other larger, surreal life in the world out there, the one that’s just begun and is getting bigger all the time.”

In some sense, the article itself plays into the larger life that’s “getting bigger all the time,” as it assists in the proliferation of the story of John John Florence, well known in the insular global surf community but lesser known beyond.

The profile also addresses John John’s relationship with his estranged father, his beekeeping and koi pond hobbies, and more. Read the piece in its entirety here.

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