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UCLA Alum James Puffer To Receive USA Water Polo's Duke Kahanamoku Award
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  11/29/2004

Nov. 29, 2004

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - USA Water Polo announced last week that it will be naming former UCLA water poloist Dr. James C. Puffer as its 2004 Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Award winner at the Men's NCAA Water Polo Championships in Northern California at a formal dinner on December 3.

The Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Award is presented annually to a former water polo player for his or her national or internationally significant achievements in the fields of science, business, government, education, entertainment or the arts. There are no restrictions other than that the recipient must be an outstanding individual who played water polo and whose life has served as an inspiration to youth, just as the award's namesake.

"Dr. Puffer is another perfect example of outstanding individuals who went on to excel in their chosen profession after their water polo careers ended," said USA Water Polo Executive Director Tom Seitz. "Dr. Puffer is a recognized authority and expert in the medical field. He appropriately joins the distinguished list of past Duke recipients."

Puffer played an integral role in the success of UCLA's men's water polo program and UCLA athletics as a whole. He was a three-year water polo letterwinner (1969-1971) and a member of two national championship teams ('69-'71). He also attended UCLA Medical School and earned his doctorate in 1976. Puffer attained a family practice residency at UCLA Medical Center upon his graduation and was later named Chief of the Division of Family Medicine in 1983 and helped to make the discipline a department in 1997.

It was in honor of his leadership and devotion to UCLA that the Dr. James Puffer Loyalty and Contribution Team Award was created in 2001. Jeff Pflueger and Dr. Puffer's son, Jon, were selected as the award's first recipients. In 2002, former goalkeeper Brandon Brooks took home the honor while Joseph Axelrad received the award in 2003.

Dr. Puffer, currently the Executive Director of the American Board of Family Practice in Lexington, Kentucky, is one of the more recognized names in all of sports medicine. As the Head Team Physician to the 1988 Olympic Team in Seoul, South Korea, it was Dr. Puffer who stitched the wound on the head of Greg Louganis after his now-famous springboard accident. Puffer also served as a physician on the 1984 Winter Olympic Team in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. He was a member of the United States Olympic Committee's Sports Medicine and Sports Science Council from 1985-1992 and served as a team physician to the UCLA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics from 1979 until his departure from UCLA in 2002.

Dr. Puffer has also served in a number of consultative roles. He was a member of the American Heart Association Working Group which developed the consensus statement on "Screening for Cardiovascular Disease in Athletes." He served as a consultant to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 1988-1990. He served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports from 1983-1990 and was its Chairman from 1985-1990.

Dr. Puffer was a founding member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and served as its President in 1996-1997. He is a fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine and was elected Vice President, Medicine in 1998.He is a member of the United States Olympic Sports Medicine Society and served as a member of its Board of Directors from 1993-1996.

Dr. Puffer has served as Editor-in-Chief of Sports Medicine Digest since 1992 and as Associate Editor of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise from 1989-1998. He serves on the editorial board of not fewer than ten journals and as a peer reviewer for many others. He has given more than 450 presentations and has written over 50 scientific papers and 25 book chapters on a variety of sports medicine topics.

About Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), a native of Waikiki, Hawaii, was a three-time Olympian in swimming and was twice a member of the U.S. Olympic water polo team. He and his five brothers were the the "re-originators" of the ancient sport of surfing and he was the first to introduce it to Europe, Australia and the eastern seaboard of America. He also spent time as an actor in Hollywood, was the first to demonstrate the surfboard as a practical life-saving device and, perhaps just as important, introduced the luau beach party to Southern California. He was elected Sheriff of Honolulu for 13 consecutive terms (26 years), was a businessman, restaurateur, and served as both the unofficial and later "official" greeter for Hawaii.

He and other dark-skinned Hawaiians did a great deal to break down the color barriers in American sport long before Jackie Robinson's days with the Brooklyn Dodgers and, along with Johnny Weismuller, was among the first to pit aquatic athletes among the glamorous in sport. His dedication to excellence, in aquatics and in life, and love for people (he once saved the lives of eight boat wreck victims) have lent themselves to the development of the USA Water Polo Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Award.


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