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BlackBeltBeauty Radio

Performing at our highest level in life, is living a beautiful and fulfilled life: THIS is BlackBeltBeauty.

Aug 13, 2020

I am SO excited to finally get my FOREVER FRIEND, one of my very best girls, Keala Kennelly on the show for you.

This Hawaiian-born badass is the definition of high-performance, not only in athleticism but also in the way she uses the power of her voice to advocate for the change and action she wants to see made in the world. 

Kauai born and raised, Keala grew up surfing with icons like Andy + Bruce Irons, charging some of the island's heaviest waves and eventually competing against them in youth competitions. 

She turned pro at 17 and began competing around the world on the WQS tour, quickly moving up to surf against the best on the WCT. She spent a decade ranked in the top 10 on the ASP World Championship Tour. And by 2003, Keala peaked as number 1 in the WCT rankings before ending the year as the 2nd best female surfer in the world.

Being the multi-passionate crusader that she is, Keala decided to take a break from her surfing career in 2007 to pursue her love for acting and music (you might recognize her from the renowned film Blue Crush or the HBO series, John from Cincinnati). 

It was in that phase of her career, Keala then decided to depart from the WCT tour, where her surfing felt limited to a certain style, and instead chase her passion for surfing big waves. 

Keala has since been a true pioneer in creating groundbreaking performances on some of the heaviest waves, shattering glass ceilings and proving that women are just as courageous, skilled and BADASS as men in the sport. 

One of her most outstanding recognitions, outside of being the current WSL’s Women’s Big Wave Champion, was becoming the first woman to be invited to compete in the renowned Eddie Aikau Big Wave competition at Waimea Bay-- I cannot express how BIG of a deal this actually is, especially as a born + raised Kauai girl.  

Since Keala has cemented her presence in the world of big wave surfing, she has used her status to help establish a Women’s Big Wave Tour and holds a vital role in the committee that was responsible for winning the fight for women's equal pay in surfing back in 2018. This was a true milestone accomplishment for Keala, in her long list of accolades, and she now has her heart set on furthering this accomplishment as an advocate for equality in pay across ALL of women’s sports. 

Here’s the thing you guys, with ALL of those incredible facts on Keala, I literally haven't even scratched the surface to my girl’s list of accomplishments + accolades. Some of the greatest accomplishments live outside of her career. Her resilience is remarkable. Her demonstration in how she battles mental health issues, how she has faced death and risen back from traumatic injuries, and what it took her to finally come out and show the world a truth she kept locked up within her during the earlier parts of her life.  

To be fully transparent, this copy was a bit daunting at the thought of creating not only because it is a HUGE challenge to summarize my girl’s long list of accolades with brevity but also to reverently give you an inside view on the deep-loving connection that is multiple decades longs between KK and I. 

The reality is I can’t.

However, I do believe this powerful conversation with my hilarious, badass, always reaching for bigger, homegirl for life; will give you a killer glimpse of how amazing she is and how much she means to me.



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