By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Bobby Martinez warned them.
The day he was banned from surfing's World Tour for causing "damage" to the sport's image, he was back east on Long Island's Long Beach. Although he'd put his sponsor-logo hat on, his personal emblems — the glorious tats that unfurl across his back — were hidden by the long-sleeve, colored jersey surfers wear so judges can identify them on the water.
Martinez had won his first heat in the Quiksilver Pro New York 2011, when Todd Kline, one of the sponsor's marketers, pulled him over for an interview for the company's webcast.
"The ASP and you guys aren't going to want this interview," Martinez told Kline, referring to the Association of Surfing Professionals, the sanctioning body of the World Tour.
But Kline waved the words off. When the mic went live, the surfer let loose. By the time Martinez was done, one minute and seven seconds later, F-bombs littered the sand like trash on the beach after Memorial Day.
Seen live on the Internet and on huge screens at Long Beach, Martinez hammered the Association of Surfing Professionals, the World Tour and his competitors, starting slowly but gaining momentum as he leaned toward the camera, his board next to him. "I don't want to be a part of this dumb fucking wannabe tennis tour," he let them know.
"Fucking surfing's going down the drain, thanks to these people," he concluded.
Martinez had a case to argue: the tour's recent adoption of a rolling world ranking system, similar to tennis, which, he said, meant the tour's top 34 surfers could be outranked by competitors who had never surfed against them. "Come on, now. That's bullshit," he scowled. To many, Martinez's ferocity was unintelligible.
Quiksilver's Kline froze. His mouth gaped.
The ASP didn't hesitate to react. Martinez had been jabbing it with "fucks" on Twitter for months. Even before the interview turned into a global blowup with thousands of downloads, the ASP Rules and Disciplinary Committee disqualified him and suspended him from the World Tour.
Bobby Martinez, a rare Latino surfing superstar from a working-class background, who had risen to the top tier of professional surfers on Earth, was too rebel for what had once been a rebel sport.
Even two months later, there's an edge to ASP spokesman Dave Prodan's voice when he discusses Martinez's suspension. "Bobby made it abundantly clear that he was ... not happy with being on tour. And I don't think there's much of a reason to give him a second chance or a third chance or a fourth chance," he says.
Since he turned 20, Martinez, now 29, has skirmished with surf industry powers in Orange County and Australia. With his stylish, effortless surfing, he nailed huge wins as a rookie, and was once seen as a possible successor to Florida's Kelly Slater, winner of more World Tours than Lance Armstrong has Tour de France victories. But Martinez also defied sponsors, took his complaints with competitive surfing's hierarchy public and called B.S. on competitors he didn't respect because they wouldn't speak up.
Although he beat even Slater, long before New York there were plenty in the surf industry who saw him as petulant, stubborn — unhirable.
But to discover the story behind the controversial interview is to find another Martinez: Hardwired to speak the truth but also, "honestly, one of the most humble guys I've ever met," says Tarik Khashoggi, a lifelong friend.
"People got this misconception of him that he's ungrateful ... but he is so grateful," says pro surfer Pascal Stansfield, a friend of Martinez's.
But surfing is money.
Begun as surfer-to-surfer small businesses, the industry now is part of the active-lifestyle market, which includes skateboarding, motocross and snowboarding. The surf/skate industry had $7.22 billion in U.S. sales in 2008. It is dominated by the "big five" companies, which sponsor surfers and pay for a key industry marketing vehicle, the World Tour. But that tour has always struggled to grow its audience.
The new ratings system — the radical reworking of the World Tour that Martinez pilloried — was conceived as a solution and a way to showcase new faces.
And in Long Beach, Huntington Beach–based Quiksilver had hoped to increase surfing's profile by hosting a major contest in an unlikely locale just miles from Manhattan, the media capital of the world. Instead, viewers were treated to Martinez spitting on his sport.
But within two months, the ASP would have its own self-inflicted, epic fail on its hands by mistakenly crowning a champion before he actually won. And some would see Martinez as a truth sayer. Then, on Dec. 27, the ASP abandoned the most controversial aspect of its new rules — the one Martinez had vehemently railed against.
"Unfortunately for pro surfing, there are very few people like Bobby, who are willing to speak out," says Sunny Garcia, surfing's 2000 World Champion, who splits time between Hawaii and San Clemente. "Bobby said it so the rest of the world could finally hear what a lot of surfers actually think."
Bobby, if you are reading this I hope you understand that you have a Father in Heaven who loves you intensely. People may fail you but He won't. If you will pray sincerely you can truly be forgiven of all your sins and then you will feel His love. Once you do...... nothing will ever be the same.
The power of procreation is the most sacred power in all the universe, the means by which children are born, families are formed and worlds populated. Those who use the vulgar four-letter word to represent this sacred power are walking in darkness at noon day. Bobby not only offended many people with his words in New York as well as set a poor example for children who heard or read them, but more importantly he offended his Father in Heaven. The tatoos, the profane language, the love of violence are clear cut indicators that he is going in the wrong direction, away from the light and towards darkness..... where he will never find true happiness. I wish Ms. Rothman had told Bobby what he needed to hear instead of what she thought he, and her readers, wanted to hear.
I don't know why everyone always brings his cultural heritage into it. He's an American like you and I. I can see where the complexities of a new system mess with an individuals family life especially when it directly effects their paycheck. He's a professional surfer having to change the way he supports and takes care of his family. Sounds like he's just a man that takes that seriously and has been pushed to far. We've seen many professional athlete's inform the public they are not role models and performed much more egregious behavior than this. Is banning someone really appropriate or should we just boycott these company's until they bring this incredible surfer back. I say he deserves it. Guy that uses his talents to support his family and puts a great deal of importance on that and also stands on his principles. He sounds like a great roll model to me! I need to buy more Lightning Bolt gear and boycott all this "OC Corporate Goliath" crap!
I really could care less about this yic yak. Never heard of him. But surfing as a "sport" is a sad testament to what greed and commercialism does to a pure and free activity. This crap isn't surfing, it's merchandising. Yes I am an old guy. I started surfing when there were only longboards, and have been surfing for 45 years. I love it. The ocean is my home. But this commercial surfing nausea is not worthy of being talked about in the same serntence as free surfing. Sad, really. Sad that so many groms will never know. Sad that so many have been sucked in to this waste of time, and exploitation of the ocean. Surfing has....I kid you not....deteriorated over the last 25 years as a result of the influence of money, capitalism, and greed over this crackerjack conspiracy. The sport of kings has become the sport of dollar signs. Very sad. Auwe He'e Nalu. Ohana Kai forever. Dora lives!
It's fitting he goes by Bobby and not Robert. He acts/acted like a total child. I lost massive respect for the guy seeing watching him unload at the contest. Perspective man. We aren't talking civil rights, racsim, or oppressive injustice. We have a pro surfer littering his bs over surfing rules. In my opinion it's classless and made him look stupid regardless of what point he was trying to make. And in regards to the SF snafu. It was a screw up for sure, but big deal. To me it didnt reveal the ASP to be a poorly run thing nor did it validate Bobby's rant. It was a screw up. Bobby should be admired for his surfing. Nothing else. Doesn't take balls to act like a jackass. Stand up with class and then people listen.
When John Severson, owner of Surfer Magazine created the idea of the "Surfer Poll" in 1963, it was the beginning of the control of the "Surfer Celebrity". The magazine, as sponsor of the surf industry via advertising to sell their product, was the beginning of the end of the "Soul Surfer", as Surfer Magazine appointed the "Surfer's of the Year", elected by the readers. This became the message of SURF in the 1960s.
Before that, the 50s Surf Movie perpetuated the myth of SURF as a newsreel to the packed crowds of surfers who paid the ticket prices. Surfers of the longboard era were rebels and misfits, clustered around the beaches, coves and points of California and the world, as The Endless Summer proved in the media there was the Surf and Surfer around the world to wonder about.
In the 50s one could visit Malibu Beach as a forum of youth laid out on the beach, as Miki Dora became the spectacle - the dominant persona in SURF. He was the complete image to follow as a minor. Through magazines, photos and movies you could really understand his character and impact on his "AUDIENCE". He was "www.rogersandcowan.com" as his own PR agency. HE controlled HIS surf industry.
Later, from another point of view as graphic designer working for JIMMY'Z and GOTCHA, I was embedded as the image maker of The Endless Summer poster that had become an icon for SURF. I was consulting with the labels and they had to exploit surfing in it's industry of retail sales. The industry had to focus on young men to sell volumes of boardshorts and accessories. They had to appoint, also through Surfer Magazine, "Surfer Celebrities" to exploit, in order to tell the story of why the audience needed their product. To make the whole thing work, Surfer had to appear as a REBEL, like the original MIKI DORA. This legendary idea has made the SURF BUSINESS a worldwide industry and is the same media-mould we see today.
The World Tour of maintaining the pack of 150 REBELS sponsored by the surf industry is an empire with false REBEL GODS in the media, taking nothing away from their athletic prowess. It is a visual media with the mirror and audience as the tool that pays for the industry. Whether you are a surfer, a viewer or the merchandising buyer, it is a worldwide business - an artificial, contrived medium and message built around the above ideal.
So Bobby, as the last Soul Surfer, rebels against the industry feeling used by it all. But understand: Miki would get upset when he was not the user too.
John Van HamersveldSanta Monica
With all due respect to Mr. Martinez, your article illustrates him as someone who got a raw deal? Surfing as a sport is in dyer need of ambassadors like the current world champion Kelly Slater not someone losing their cool over a ASP company decision. Surfing, like any other sport, has it's rules of decorum, and his tirade should be considered unacceptable on every level! "Freedom Artists?" "Lightning Bolt" in Venice? Clearly, both using your publication to petal their wears? All that said, Mr. Martinez's surfing prowess certainly speaks for it's self. However, not unlike several older professionals surfing has eclipsed even the best of the 30 and over pros. Bobby, you rip, but get off the soap box, in the gym, and in the water. Love to see you win a title!
GREAT article. It is not surprising as it is a typical situation when dealing with profit-oriented entities that only care about taking credit or capitalizing on monopolies in a given industry. This is certainly a controversial subject, but I appreciate it as you don't see much of this anymore.
Hey, this is Tibby Rothman the writer of the L.A. Weekly's Bobby Martinez story. Thanks to everyone for dropping by with their comments--no matter what their POV is on the piece. Many of notes, ideas and perspectives are very interesting, and I'm super glad people have been posting up their thoughts. Have a great day, peeps.
I'm not sure why you would be surprised that the big surf companies dominate the tour?There is no TV money no big ticket gate so where does the money come from? They are basically like the NFL or NBA owners calling the shots in their league.
Australia is NOT California and vice versa, but the Aussie contingient was very successful in procreating the contest surf format on California soil during my youth surfing in the 1970's. What sells via surfing in Australia is of a different nature than what sells in California which happens to be mainstream media manipulations, while Aussies revere competition and sunshine and family by the ocean.Together, the California contingient and the Aussie influx has turned what goes down on the North Shore of Oahu into an industry, and it is a very tight knit club, and actually, not very representative of what goes on in any surfers life, away from the contest circuit.Forget about flying around the world on a sponsors dime- I did it on my own for thirty years, with VERY little cash. I surfed better than most, and was told I was as good as Michael Ho, and I had only been on the North Shore once before. So as far as ranking among the top around the world I learned the difference between a spotlight star and an outcast nobody, always comes down to one thing, who has wave rights, and position, and when you get to the surface after the wipeout, whether one or the other is charitable, or belligerant. Surfing pays peanuts and gets monkees. Slater was the King, and so let it go and move on. With billions in revenue siphoned off by the Big Five, it DOES seem a little like a circus trick, done in dishonor of the Sport of Kings. Bobby said his piece and it was the truth, but we now see what happens when one speaks truth to power. One would hope industry backbiters would champion strong voices and strong backs and souls, but in their corporate arena, they do not. Sad since surfing is one of the most exciting and cleanest sports I have ever encountered. Just remember this, surfing happens out in the water. Boardroom chumps will cut you off at any chance. Shoulder hopping for dollars as they steal your waves and your life in order to stroke their own egos. Bobby needs to come down to San Diego and look Zigz up and together we will start the counterboardroom culture at my secret Sunset Cliffs reef. Sponsors will jump on as we make waves, not friends.One thong is sure- this outspoken rant by Bobby is JUST what the doctor ordered, for a stagnant surf culture, which has been riding the same three fin potato chip for WAY TOO long..
Wow, Great, well- informed and comprehensive article. Bobby was well over it prior to using his heat win at the Quik NY Pro as a launching pad for his well-timed blast on the ASP, and may very well have single-handedly influenced the retraction of the Mid-year cut. The guy I think was 5th on the 2011 ratings with a true shot at the title, but was facing getting cut because his previous years results factored in. How can one focus on winning a tour with something like that hanging over him. I commend Bobby on speaking up, Sure it could have been done in a more diplomatic fashion, however, there's no way it would have been nearly as effective.
Yeah, so kudos to B.M. for speaking up and keeping to his moral compass. Even Slater and a number of others were critical of the the judging criteria back in the day. Perhaps the slew of f-bombs and the anger--i haven't seen the video--is what caused him to be condemned by the ASP. The article says that much.
The sport of surfing was lucky to has B.M. B.M. can do better things in his life than travel all year and surf in contests.
The world of surfwear marketing is bullshit in my opinion; their message, "hey kids, be cool, be rebellious, wear our clothing." Where is the honesty in that?
if bobby's bitchin so much about the tour... why doesn't he MAN UP AND QUIT, AND SURF FOR FUN or whatever you want to call it...instead of for the money. Like the rest of us suckers who handle a day job that isn't spectacular just to get some waves a couple times of week..
"Cry" is right. If Bobby doesn't like the tour why doesn't he stop talking about it already? His point about the mid year cutoff and ranking is ridiculous. In the old QS system, at years end, CT guys would be replaced by surfers from the QS. It's all the same, just done twice a year with the mid year method. No one told him to do 12 conservative turns to the beach. That was his poor decision. Kelly, Dane, Gabriel and others are getting through heast with one huge turn or air. Freesurfing in thier heats. I watch the freesurf videos and the WT contest. In my opinion the surfing in the contests, waves permitting, is equal too or better than the videos which take months to film, no less.
Good article accept for some grammatical errors and spelling errors. Kind of ironic, but whatever. I like how Bobby speaks the truth and at the same time doesn't want to become an authority. If Bobby wanted to become an authority in the surf industry he would speak in the 'C-SPAN' rhetoric that is political and snaky. Thats why Bobby is a leader.
Great article! The "Orange County Koolaid" has been flowing like cheap wine for decades. Just ask John Van Hamersveld about the early days of Surfer Mag. Dora is rolling in his grave!
Tibby, I think you'll find that the comment attributed to "Pseudonym" should actually be attributed to the previous commenter "Anonymous". Sorta reflects the less than diligent journalism skills evidenced throughout the rest of the article.
Surfing, professional as well as amature has been corrupted by the vile, the swine and greed just as much of America and the world has been by the corporations. Quik recently opened a store with the rest of the world in Venice, Ca. I have been holding a local surf contest for 20 years and asked Quik manager Kessler to sponsor the contest. The dude glad handed me like a politician, promised sponsorship and never returned an email or call. I even gave the lame a copy of my book. Full on creep. Dora called it decades ago. Martinez is a modern echo of past surfers sentiment. Quiksilver=Exxon
respect man. another tribe member that isn't afraid to tell it like it is and see's the vultures for what they are... surfing was invented as a recreational past time, but as usual someone figured how to turn a profit with it and then steered everything in their direction for commercial gain...
respect to the brands that still sponsor free surfers tho! the bong and everyone at rip curl gets my 2 thumbs up :)
Right on Bobby!!!!!!!!!!!And Tibby Rothman is great for telling it. In the L.A. weekly, no less."Bobby Martinez, a rare Latino surfing superstar from a working-class background, who had risen to the top tier of professional surfers on Earth, was too rebel for what had once been a rebel sport."
bobby is just telling it like it is! who else would know the faults of the tour than someone that's been on it for years
the ASP response sounds bitch! they're treating him like a misfit without even addressing the facts he raises (too close to home huh)
the tour went commercial and sold out years ago... so they have an agenda to uphold because of sponsors and the desperate need to be recongized as a legitimate sport. there are 2 sides to the story, and if Bobby is the only one saying it out loud I bet other blokes in the 44 are thinking the same thing
who cares in the end. just paddle out and this shit will fade away
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ASIANS CAN ACTUALLY READ MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!they can hear and see what your visually thinkingthis is the complete truth
The reason a lot of Asians have completely expressionless faces, only associate with Asians and don't associate with non Asians that much, and are very unfriendly in general is to avoid accidentally revealing that they can read minds. If all over a billion Asians where to show facial expressions all the time just as much as non Asians, associate with non Asians much more, and be much more friendly and talkative, then a lot of them might accidentally reveal that they can read minds by accidentally showing a facial expression or dirty look when someone thinks, or visually pictures something in their mind they don't like, find astonishing, or funny etc because those people might see that and and really wonder what that was that just happened there and see the connection, if they all associated with non Asians a lot more then there would be a lot more people around for them to accidentally show facial expressions when those people think things they don't like etc, so they only associate with Asians so there won't be anyone around for them to see that and have any accidents happen in the first place.
Think about it, it's not normal how a lot of them act, it's not normal human behavior! and the entire way they act is all to hid their mind reading abilities, it makes perfect sense to do all of that to hide that they can read minds, because all of that is the perfect way to do it!Every single Asian alive is hiding their mind reading abilities, they will always deny that they can read minds, they will lie about having mind reading abilities forever!!!Because they value hiding their mind reading abilities more then their own lives! That's why nobody knows about it!
Try thinking, best yet visually picturing in your mind something absolutely crazy as you possibly can when you are around Asians, and try looking for Asians who give people particular looks, especially dirty looks for what appears to be for completely no reason, that is them giving people looks when they hear and visually see someone thinking something they don't like, find astonishing, or funny etc.It still happens spite a large percentage of Asians having completely expressionless faces all the time, it would just happen a lot more if none of them had completely expressionless faces all the time, it's still not uncommon!
I know this sounds crazy, impossible and completely unbelievable, BUT IT ISN'T CRAZY WHEN ITS TRUE
The reason you think this truly is crazy, impossible, and unbelievable is because our society as propagandized us into believing that nothing extra ordinary is real, and that it is impossible that people can read minds, and that it is crazy to think that it's true that people can read minds, all just to cover up that Asians can read minds! who says that can't exist? the people who have mind reading abilities who are trying to cover it up!
You all have to spread the message!!!!!The world has to know about this!!!!!
Always liked him as a surfer. Have no idea what he became so embittered about in the last few years. Also, Bells has been the second event on tour forever and he's never won Bells. This inaccuracy - in addition to the one-sided sources (managers, sponsors, friends, etc.) - makes me not really believe everything in this article. Would have liked to have heard more from his past sponsors or maybe some surfers on tour right now.
Bobby is a terrible, uneducated and foul-mouthed example for the latino community. We finally get someone that our kids can look up to in the surfing world and he was an excellent role model in his earlier days. However, the past two years, he has turned into an angry, confused wannabe gang-banger. He should really have valued what he had: getting paid to go around the world and surf. Many of us are not so lucky.
I watching remember Bobby's rant in NY and wishing he was clearer about his point. Not so much his language, I personally don't mind that but I really was trying to understand his point. I get it now. He is a great surfer and will do fine. Really, for the average surfer, the tour is big enough, surfing is big enough and everything is great. It will never be the NFL, NBA or MLB and we actually love it that way. We are surfers and there are already too many of us in the water!