An interview with “Wolf Pack” leader Kala Alexander
Every visiting North Shore surfer has the same recurring nightmare. It involves a raised, black truck, a cut, Hawaiian-looking guy with tribal tattoos running up both arms and a fist that pounds harder than Pipe. For some, this nightmare has come true, the painful result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But for everyone else, it constantly lurks in the realm of possibility, ready to play out with the slightest change in fortune. The North Shore has always had its heavyweights, guys who run the lineups with piercing glares, verbal intimidation or the occasional punch-out. But no group changed the North Shore dynamic as fast as the Kauai Wolf Pack. In the span of one winter, they transformed Pipeline from a free-for-all to the world’s heaviest toll booth. In the span of one winter, that booth’s main collector, Kala “Captain” Alexander, seeped into everyone’s subconscious. But Kala isn’t just a nightmare. He’s flesh and blood, with a lifelong connection to the ocean, a tragic family history and a new perspective on his actions. This is not an endorsement of thuggery or localism; this is reality. This is Kala Alexander. – Evan Slater
SURFING MAGAZINE: Let’s start at the beginning.
KALA ALEXANDER: I was born in Wahiawa, 1969. We actually lived across from Kammies store, with Tiger Espere and Eddie Rothman. My dad dug out before I was born. My uncle Tiger and Eddie were the guys – they were my father figures.
SURFING MAGAZINE: Your dad was Hawaiian?
KALA ALEXANDER: Yeah, but I don’t really talk to him much. He never helped out my mom. He never called me on my birthdays. Never really did much for me, know what I mean? So, I was kind of bitter, just looking at all the other kids growing up with dads. Luckily I had good uncles. Keala Kennelly’s dad actually pushed me in on my first wave.
SURFING MAGAZINE: That was when you lived on Kauai?
KALA ALEXANDER: When I was about 11 months old, I moved over to Kauai. And we were dirt poor, man. We had nothing. My mom hitchhiked around with me. She cleaned yards.
SURFING MAGAZINE: Your mom’s from the Mainland, right?
KALA ALEXANDER: My mom’s from eight-mile Detroit. My dad’s from the ghetto in Waipahu. So I guess you can say I’m ghetto fabulous [laughs].
SURFING MAGAZINE: So it was pretty tough on Kauai.
KALA ALEXANDER: Real tough, but my mom was a smart lady. She actually got a job cleaning the Kauai museum’s yard. While she was doing that, she paid her way through school. After two years, she started doing the books there. Eventually she became the director of the museum.
SURFING MAGAZINE: You initially did well in school, too, didn’t you?
When I was 13, I scored in the top seven percent in the whole state of Hawaii. I received a full academic scholarship to go to Kamehameha on Oahu. KALA ALEXANDER: Unfortunately, I didn’t appreciate it then. I rebelled. All I knew was that I was young, I was away from all my friends, and I missed home. After two years, they kicked me out. It was my first real f-k up in a long line of f-k ups. So, I went back to Kapaha with Kaiborg [Kai Garcia] and Chava [Greenlee] and all the boys.
For more, pick up the Jan. 05 issue of SURFING. On newsstands now. Or, click HERE to subscribe!