By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
"From surfing, I bought this place," Martinez says quietly. It's two months after the blowup in New York and he has pulled his truck up behind a modest duplex in Santa Barbara — the house where his parents live.
Martinez is giving a tour of the neighborhood where he grew up. It's the tour writers always want for their color commentary, which glibly treats the gang-territory streets of his youth like a tourist destination: the block where someone was shot, the relative's house where he got his first tattoo with a jury-rigged tattoo gun. Martinez left the surfing tour in part to spend more time with family who live here in Santa Barbara's working-class Latino enclave, but it bothers him when surfing publications push this angle, as if where he grew up defines him more than his surfing.
Straight up, Bobby Martinez is a surfer.
At 6 years of age, when he rode a wave standing on a Boogie Board at a public beach in Santa Barbara, his course was set.
At 12, he won his first national championship as an amateur. It was the first of seven, many of which broke National Scholastic Surfing Association records.
At 13, he traveled to war-torn El Salvador for a photo shoot — just him, another kid and the photographer. He earned a $30,000 sponsorship deal in seventh grade. In ninth grade, he was traveling so much that he left school.
When he was 15, girls razzed Pascal Stansfield, who was older than Martinez, for hanging out with "a kid" at Malibu, home of the famed California wave. "You don't understand," Stansfield responded. "That's Bobby Martinez. He's the man."
His style looked effortless. There was a buzz. Martinez was the next great thing.
People thought he would rapidly transcend pro surfing's farm tour — the Qualifying Series — and make the elite group of contests, the World Championship Tour, which crowns the top surfer annually.
Instead, a career-threatening injury stopped him from competing the first year. From 2003 to 2005, Martinez was almost always on the road, living out of a "board bag," trying to crack surfing's top tier.
"You spend more time in airports and cars almost than you actually do when you're surfing," Stansfield says.
"You can be in some of the most amazing places in the world, but you just lost and you just want to go home," says Qualifying Series veteran Venice surfer Justin Swartz.
After three years, Martinez — who was by then footing the bill for much of his global travel due to sponsor problems — started to lose his confidence. "Al told him, 'You can do this, you're close,' " says Travis Lee, who works for Channel Island Surfboards, the home of legendary surfboard shaper Al Merrick. "He stuck with it and qualified" for the tour.
His first year on the tour in 2006 was a dream. First event, third place. Second event, a win. He took down Kelly Slater himself to win another.
That year he won at Teahupoo, Tahiti, the tour's defining wave. A barreling tube over a razor-sharp reef, it's an entirely different beast from Rincon, Santa Barbara's generous rolling wave where he made his name. It put everyone on notice.
He ended the year fifth in the rankings — to many, an astounding ascent. He was the 2006 Rookie of the Year.
Everything was different, but Martinez was still the same.
"When he won at Teahupoo ... he calls me from an airport," says Bryan Taylor, his manager. "We spoke about business. Finally I said, 'Is the contest over?' And he said, 'Yes, it ended this morning.' And we went back to talking about business and I assumed he must not have done well. Finally I said, 'By the way, did you do OK?' And there's hesitation and he said, 'I guess, I won.' I said, 'You won! Why didn't you tell me 20 minutes ago?' "
On the tour, Martinez often kept to himself and was not part of the event and party scene. He never liked to travel, cherishing his time at home with family and friends. He lived quietly with his wife and worked out at a struggling neighborhood boxing gym. Though unassuming by nature, at 16 he had tried to buy a Mercedes. When the dealer refused to take seriously a Mexican kid acting as if he could afford a luxury car, he bought a BMW instead. But those days ended. He gave up the BMW for a white Prius.
In Martinez's first four years on the tour, he always ranked in the world's top 10. Yet by 2009, even though beverage company Monster Energy provided him with a lucrative contract, he was surfing without the logistical help of a major clothing sponsor — something unheard of on the tour.
Martinez had gotten in a beef with his sponsor, Reef.
It was not his first dispute with a sponsor. They had begun, during his first full year trying to qualify, with sunglass and apparel manufacturer Oakley, which is headquartered in Orange County. The Martinez who ran solo was the same Martinez who would not bow when he disagreed with his bosses.
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
I am a 26-years-old servicewoman (working in Air Force), mature and charming but still single. I am seeking one who can give me real love, so I joined in the online service ---Kissinguniform.c0m---. It's a 10-year-old club for uniformed personnel finding their intimate lovers. Well, being in military service does not mean to be lonely; you can meet the Mr. or Miss Right there.p.s. The admirers of those uniformed person are also warmly welcome, there are lots of servicemen and women.
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!
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city