Makua Rothman was born on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii June 17, 1984. Makua is an American big wave rider and professional surfer, On Feb. 28, 2015, he was crowned the 2015 Big Wave World Champion in the World Surf League's (WSL) first sanctioned Big Wave World Tour (BWWT). He is the son of Eddie Rothman, who in 1976 founded Hui O He'e Nalu (literally, "Club of Wave Riders"), shortened to "Da Hui", in Oahu. Da Hui, was established purportedly as a reaction to the tourists who were traveling to Hawaii and were not respectful of the local culture and surf etiquette on the North Shore. At a young age Rothman surfed with his father, who pushed him to surf waves much bigger than those his peers were surfing.
Rothman attributes his surfing prowess in large waves to his size as a youth. Because he was slightly overweight growing up, he wasn't as agile as some of his peers and catching smaller, less powerful waves was difficult for him. Bigger, more powerful waves better suited his surfing, and Rothman began to test the limits of his skills by surfing famous big-wave spots like Sunset Beach and Pipeline. Rothman also suffered from asthma as a child, a health issue potentially detrimental to his participating in a sport where breathing and holding one's breath are fundamentally important. However, his father involved him in various other sports such as soccer, baseball, football, and water polo because the strenuous workouts seemed to help relieve his asthma. A formative experience of Rothman's surfing occurred in 1992, when he was eight years old. He paddled out to surf at famous big-wave spot Waimea Bay during a ceremony held for deceased surfer Eddie Aikau. The heavy surf conditions pounded the young Rothman, holding him under two 12-foot set waves, but he suddenly popped up in a clearing of the turbulent white-water. This event bolstered his confidence in big-wave conditions.
Prior to 2004, Rothman weighed 189 pounds — heavier than most male professional surfers. But after working with trainer and friend Rob Garcia, (strength trainer for professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya) Rothman brought his weight down to roughly 160 pounds, a weight loss that has apparently benefited his surfing. To accomplish this he made changes in his diet and exercise regime, and now eats mostly salad, fish, chicken, and steak, avoids processed foods, and stays active fishing, hunting, running, free-diving, grappling, working out with a punching bag, and riding his motorcycle.
Rothman began surfing at the unusually early age of two years, and started tow-in surfing at age 13 with his dad and family friend Darrick Doerner. With Doerner, one of the pioneers of tow-in surfing, as his guide, Rothman eventually became proficient enough to win the 2002 Billabong XXL Big Wave Challenge Award in an historic big-wave session. His surfing a 66-foot wave (the largest wave known to be surfed anywhere in the world that winter) earned him $66,000 in prize money.
Rothman attributes his love of surfing and the ocean to his father as well as several professional surfers he grew up around including Garcia, Myles Padaca, Johnny Boy Gomes, and Dane Kealoha. Rothman credits these men as role models because they taught him how to dive and hunt for food, as well as instilling values of respect, leadership, and being true to one's own beliefs. Among Rothman's favorite surfers are Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Shane Dorian, Sunny Garcia, and Eddie Aikau.