Besides the great Mark Richards’ formerly unprecedented four consecutive world titles in the early 80s, there can surely be no greater Australian surfing story than that of Mark Occhilupo. An unparalleled tale of sheer guts, determination, class, and focus, Occy’s sad demise and triumphant return has been heralded as one of the greatest sporting stories ever witnessed.
Just five years ago, the Cronulla juggernaut who had set the world on fire and redefined the parameters of power surfing was a disillusioned and overweight statistic of personal traumas and the pro-surfing lifestyle of the 80s. Who ever would have thought he could achieve what he has? It’s just bloody amazing, an example to all of us that there’s no such word as “can’t.” He got off the lounge, trained like an ironman, and took to the qualifying circuit with gusto and bravado.
He spent one of the most frustrating years of his life adjusting his trademark “Raging Bull” style to the clinical confines of the ASP judging criteria. Mark struck the formula, earned the points big-time, and then after nine years off the beaten track, ascended back into the top ranks. He told few of his eventual goal, but his aim was always the world title he never managed as the world’s most famous grommet. More explicitly, he wanted to be the last world champ of the century.
[IMAGE 2]In 1997, he finished second to Slater, and last year he finished sixth. This year¿against all the odds and a world of doubters who saw it all as a desirable fairy tale, but just not conceivable¿he’s achieved his magnificent goal with defiance and resoluteness that most of us can only dream of. It’s the ultimate dream come true. He won all three new events on the circuit¿Tahiti, Tavarua, and Mundaka¿as though fulfilling a movie script, and very obviously achieved his destiny. Words simply cannot do this incredible freak and feat justice. The man and the achievement he’s accomplished simply defy comprehension. He did it! No greater story has ever been told. Legend of living legends!
Yeah, Occ! Rahhrr!