"I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve. And I don’t want that to happen to anyone else."
If you’ve been around these pages long enough you’ll know the story of Andy King, a hard-charging goofyfooter from Cronulla, Australia, who hit his head in a fight outside a nightclub in 2004 and lost his hearing, his balance, his pro surfing career.
The fight was usual theatre for Cronulla late on a Saturday night. A gang of footy players mouthed off to Andy’s chick from across the road; he “glazed over”, ran across the bitumen and confronted all eight of ’em.
“Ended up getting the shit kicked out of me,” he says in Make or Break.
Next thing, his head is smashed on the concrete gutter.
I went to see Andy at the hospital shortly after the fight and he was surprisingly bright given the catastrophic change to his life. Andy’s resilience was legend. He’d never had it easy. When he was a kid Andy slept with a knife under his pillow to protect himself from a violent alcoholic Dad.
Fast forward fifteen years and Andy is intro’d to Medina by Mick Fanning at a time when Medina’s life is going through rapid change, the estrangement of his family, a new wife and so on.
Medina’s shaper Johnny Cabianca said King’s arrival stilled Medina’s emotional state, elevated his performance.
And, now, Andy, now forty-five, is the unlikely star of Apple TV’s Make or Break series, stealing the show in episode two, Brazilian Storm.
“Kingy is extremely loyal, extremely passionate, he’s not going to back down,” Mick Fanning says.
We see Gabriel and Andy, in Cronulla, preparing for their first surf together.
In a moving scene, Andy tells Gabriel, “I’m going to take my cochlear off. I’m deaf.”
Andy smiles, “Just use sign language”, mimicking the universal sign for barrels.
In his to-camera interviews on Brazilian Storm, Andy forces back tears, then weeps openly, turns away from the screen.
“As you can see, I’m part robotic,” he says. “I’m half-machine. I’ve got two cochlears.”
The season ends with Andy and Gabriel, along with Gabriel’s now ex-wife Yasmin who says prophetically “Some people think that I’m just going to end his career and that he’s going to be unfocused”, celebrating Gabriel’s third world title.
“I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve,” Andy says, “And I don’t want that to happen to anyone. I want to make sure they’re completely content and that they can take what they’ve got out of their surfing and bring it to their own life.”