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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Z-Boys skateboarder Shogo Kubo dies

By Colin Bane

Skateboard pioneer Shogo Kubo, 54, died on Tuesday in Hawaii, a spokeswoman for the Honolulu medical examiner confirmed to Kubo was found unresponsive in the water at Seconds, a popular surf spot off Portlock Point in Hawaiʻi Kai, Honolulu.

Kubo was one of the original members of the Zephyr surf shop's legendary Z-Boys skateboarding team formed in Venice, California, in 1975, along with Jim Muir, Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Bob Biniak, Chris Cahill, Paul Constantineau, Peggy Oki, Stacy Peralta, Nathan Pratt, Wentzle Ruml IV and Allen Sarlo.

"All that I can say is that with reverence my heart is heavy in the loss of Shogo, a brother with a big heart," said Oki, who was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2012.

Shogo Kubo, seen on the cover of Skateboard World Magazine in 1978, was part of the original Z-Boys skateboarding team.

"Shogo had good style and to me that was the most important thing about a skateboarder," said Glen E. Friedman, who documented the Dogtown scene in iconic images from the 1970s. "He really grew into this incredible competitor and, as an adult, became a very caring and nice person who commanded a lot of respect from everyone."

The Z-Boys team, started by Jeff Ho, Craig Stecyk and Skip Engblom, has been credited with ushering in the era of modern skateboarding in the 1970s and was documented in the 2001 film "Dogtown and Z-Boys," which won Peralta a best director nod at the Sundance Film Festival. 

The "Dogtown and Z-Boys" documentary was later transformed into a biographical drama called "Lords of Dogtown," starring Heath Ledger and released in 2005 by Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures. Kubo's character was portrayed by professional skateboarder Don Nguyen.

Z-Boys co-founder Engblom told that picking Kubo for the team was a no-brainer.

"The guys just saw him around and said, 'This guy's unreal,' and he was in," Engblom recalled. "He had a really clean and efficient style, and I think he was really underrated. Tony and Jay and Stacy got all the attention, because Shogo wasn't one of those 'look at me' guys. He just quietly went about his business of destroying every pool that he found."

Those close to Kubo say they are shocked and saddened by his death.

"I'm really trying to process the fact that he's gone, because the last time I saw him he was so unbelievably healthy and active," Engblom said. "I'm glad he went out doing something he loved doing."

Kubo will also be remembered as a mentor to countless younger skateboarders including Christian Hosoi, who first met Kubo when he was just 7 years old.

"Kubo was a huge influence on generations of pool skaters," said Jack Smith, curator of the Morro Bay Skatelab Skateboard Museum. "He was one of the greats during the '70s rebirth."