As the countdown to chapter four of the “Billy” Begins documentary series, world big wave champion Kemper’s pelvis takes its place in anatomical lore!
Lots of insight.
Australian Tyler Wright exploded again on the scene after a long absence where only rumor and mystery seeped in. She is now the face of the World Surf League, eclipsing Kelly Slater as its most visible star. ESPN, the juggernaut of sports news, has just published a profile the size of a Wright’s book, its struggles and its triumphs, bringing a lot of clarity and insight.
Some highlights …
Objective: to resume surfing after a long illness: I realized that if I come back, I will first show myself who I am as a human. Surfing needs people who will walk into meeting rooms and have difficult conversations. I call for equality for women, equality for the LGBTQ + community, equality for blacks and browns and indigenous peoples. Honestly, I don’t care if I win more world titles. But I know what attracts me to the room.
Be part of a legendary surf family: When you’re so young it’s not something you question. They competed, so I competed. One inside, all inside. It was so insular. By the time I established my own thought processes, I was already traveling the world.
By going on tour at sixteen: Everyone was saying, “You are living the dream at 16.” I was like, “Whose dream? I don’t dream about this shit. I want to read books. I want to go to school.”
On the initial pressure to comply: You have to shop around for sexy surfing models women to make it marketable. The model professional surfer was quiet, white, hot, blond, skinny and straight.
By winning his first world title: I don’t want to glorify any of them. I was not competing in a healthy way. People wanted the story to be enjoyable. I wanted the story to be enjoyable to make it worth it. But mentally, it all confused me.
Upon realizing that she was gay: I wouldn’t have said that I was homophobic, but you quickly realize the internalized homophobia that you have. If you are not gay or part of the LGBTQ + community, you don’t have to watch it. But you are brought up with all these drip views. Meeting Alex, that’s when the unlearning process began for me.
In public with his new relationship: The general culture of the surfing community has been homophobic, racist and extremely sexist and this is the norm across the board. I said (to his girlfriend), “Oh no. You can’t show me affection here. You must be a platonic friend. I didn’t feel safe at all.
On a rare disease that kept her out of sight for almost two years: Overnight I lost everything, which made me Tyler Wright. I lost my personality, my physique. I am used to excruciating amounts of pain, but the physical pain has become so intense it would break me mentally. And it broke me every day. I didn’t have a minute when I was uninterrupted.
After being diagnosed with PTSD: It’s overwhelming, always being on the verge of panic. My life is literally trying to walk through a minefield and not jump on my own shadow.
On awakening to social issues: I understand that in this conversation I am a white person and have benefited from white supremacist structures. We need to start dismantling these structures.
On regained freedom and responsibility: I think it would be very human to win another world title with that mindset. And the more I am on the podium, the more I am on your screens, the more I have important conversations.