Miki Dora

Miklos Sandor Dora III (August 11, 1934 – January 3, 2002), known professionally as Miki Dora was a noted surfer of the 1950s and 1960s in Malibu, California.[1]

Miki Dora
Miki Dora, 1963.png
Dora photographed by LeRoy Grannis in Malibu, California, 1963
Miklos Sandor Dora III

(1934-08-11)August 11, 1934
DiedJanuary 3, 2002(2002-01-03) (aged 67)

Dora received numerous nicknames and aliases during his life, including "Mickey Dora," "The Black Knight," "the Gypsy Darling," "Malibu Mickey," "Kung'Bu," "the Fiasco Kid," "El Taquache," and "Da Cat."[2]


Dora was introduced to surfing by his father, Miklos, in the late 1930s.[3] His stepfather Gard Chapin was also a "surf pioneer . . . a roughneck rebel who never fit into polite society."[2] Chapin's obsessions with surfboard design brought Dora into contact with California industrial designers including visits to the studio of Charles and Ray Eames.[2]

Dora's signature surfboard, released in 1966, became the biggest selling surfboard in history, and again on its re-release 25 years later.[2] The visibility of surfers such as Dora as well as the impact of the book Gidget meant many new surfers were starting to surf and thus crowding out existing surfers such as Dora. This sudden influx of surfers caused Dora to decry the masses both in person and in advertisements for his surfboards, one of which features Dora being crucified on two of his boards.[2]

He decided to leave the U.S. in 1970 and lived around the world spending a majority of his time in France and South Africa.[4][5] After he returned to the US from France in 1981, he was subsequently arrested by the FBI for violating his parole by leaving the country in 1975 after pleading guilty to writing a bad check for the purchase of ski equipment. While serving time for that, he was sentenced to six months in federal prison after a Denver grand jury indicted him for credit card fraud in 1982.[1]

Despite his perceived mistrust towards the commercialization of surfing, Dora did enter into a profit sharing arrangement with Greg Noll to release a limited number of Miki Dora "da cat" surfboards, during which time he created magazine advertisements promoting the boards.[6]

He died at his father's home in Montecito, California, on January 3, 2002, at age 67 from pancreatic cancer.

"... If you took James Dean’s cool, Muhammad Ali’s poetics, Harry Houdini’s slipperiness, James Bond’s jet-setting, George Carlin’s irony and Kwai Chang Caine’s Zen, and rolled them into one man with a longboard under his arm, you’d come up with something like Miki Dora, surfing’s mythical antihero, otherwise known as the Black Knight of Malibu."

— surfer and author Jamie Brisick, in a retrospective on Dora.[7]

Racist ThinkingEdit

Surfing books often focus only on Dora's heroic and charismatic side. Dora was also known for being surly and standoffish. He was also referred to as a bigot[8] and a white supremacist.[9] Notably, he painted a swastika on his surfboard at least once.[10] Dora's idea of "localism" - that the waves belonged to those who grew up near them, and outsiders deserved violence to be kept away - has also been criticized as terrible and de-facto racist.[9]

Nat Young, world surfing champion in 1966 and 1970, knew Dora. As Young told an interviewer: “Dora’s take is push the black man under. He’s a supreme racist, always has been. When I was younger, I believed it was all just in mirth, that he was just jivin’ it all; but no, he believes absolutely in white supremacy.”[10]


Feature Films

Popular MediaEdit

  • In 2013, Leroy Fail recorded a song called "Dora Lives"[11]
  • In 2018, Amen Dunes named a song "Miki Dora" off their album Freedom[12]


  1. ^ a b McLELLAN, DENNIS (2002-01-05). "Miklos 'Miki' Dora, 67; Rebel Surfer". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lunenfeld, Peter (June 2008). "Gidget on the Couch". The Believer. San Francisco: McSweeney's. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  3. ^ Pezman, Steve (Spring 2002). "The Cat's Ninth Life: On Visiting Miki Dora Near the End". The Surfers Journal. 11 (2).
  4. ^ "Miki Dora Biography and Photos | SURFLINE.COM". www.surfline.com. Retrieved 2018-07-30.
  5. ^ https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2002-jan-05-me-20528-story.html
  6. ^ Rensin, David (March 2008). All for a Few Perfect Waves - The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. pp. 892–899. ISBN 9780061868160.
  7. ^ Jamie Brisick: Requiem for Surfing's Black Knight - The sanctioned Miki Dora, LA Weekly, Mar 2 2006
  8. ^ USC Trojan Family "Dawn Patrol" by Agustin Gurza, Autumn 2014.
  9. ^ a b Duane, Daniel (2019-09-28). "Opinion | The Long, Strange Tale of California's Surf Nazis". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  10. ^ a b Westwick, Peter; Neushul, Peter (2013-07-23). The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing. Crown. ISBN 978-0307719485.
  11. ^ "Dora Lives".
  12. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (2018-01-17). ""Miki Dora" by Amen Dunes". Pitchfork.

External linksEdit