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Dusitn Cuizon: The Hawaiian from the Dirty South – A Q&A

| posted on July 22, 2010

Not many pro surfers cruise in Waipahu. First off, there’s no beach scene. Secondly, the once quaint, rural plantation town is now an urban sprawl. But there are still patches of Waipahu’s plantation roots and Ilikano accents. There is one such area 22-year-old Dustin Cuizon affectionately calls, “The Farm.” When the ‘Ewa Beach local isn’t traversing the globe surfing for scrip and ‘QS points, he’s at “The Farm” chilling with his uncle and boys. This isn’t the picturesque, Old McDonald kind of farm with the big red barn, tractor and long, green pastures. Negative.

Dustin’s hangout is more of a Tetris setup of rooster coups, animal pens, tin roofs and a beehive bigger than Marge Simpson’s hair. Surprisingly, the flies are minor, but the mosquitoes roll deep and are out for blood. Probably because “The Farm” is right next to a marsh and two clicks away from Pearl Harbor. There’s no cows or horses, but every other kind of livestock is on hand. Ducks. Goats. Cats. Dogs: more poi than taro. Pigs: big enough for two babies lu‘au. And then there’s the poultry injected with more steroids than the NFL.

This is a chicken farm, but it’s more like a boxer’s gym. Where red, black, white and gray roosters train for illegal cock fights every weekend, and roosters’ bloodlines are immortalized in breeding techniques and lifetime earnings. Cuizon and his crew spar their birds here with little leather gloves over the rooster’s spurs. Dustin and his friends hold the birds and let them bite each other to get the roosters in a punchy mood. The exchanges are fast, with fluttering feathers and the boys analyzing each animal’s moves—looking for subtle nuances that will be lucrative at the upcoming illegal derby. Cuizon is partial to gray roosters, especially his favorite bird: Bulletproof.

Bulletproof and the rest of these fierce fighting fowl are a huge part of the regular-foot’s Filipino culture. More importantly, it’s another hustle to put food on the table for his baby girl, Leisha, and high school sweetheart, Megan. Growing up in what Dustin calls, “The Dirty South”(‘Ewa Beach), he witnessed the adults of the community hustle to survive. As a boy, Dustin remembers hearing the roosters crow way before hearing a wave barrel over his head. The only son of Gary Cuizon, Dustin saw his pops laboring as a carpenter and hustling on the side with cock fighting. As a young boy, Dustin decided that blue collar work was for the birds, and set out to make it as a pro surfer. He took notes from surfers like Santos Catian and Sunny Garcia, while maintaining the hustler’s main objective: make that money.

As a 5’3”, 120-pound father, Cuizon is on the WQS and plans on qualifying for the illustrious WCT. Dustin is setting the bar for his younger ripper, Cuizon cousin, Alessa.

I sat down with Dustin at “The Farm” over green bottles, barbecue and poke to talk with the 2004-05 Macy’s E-Series Champ about his ‘QS campaign, being a daddy, cock fights, superstitions and making money. This ain’t no poppy cock, this is real spit.– Daniel Ikaika Ito

How has your WQS season been this year?
Not bad, kind of up and down here and there. But, just gotta keep it together and always stay confident and focused all the time. Not get sidetracked.

You didn’t get sidetracked with your win at the Body Glove Surfbout at Trestles.
I was just cruising with the boys I always cruise with: Koa[Bacalso], Gav[Gillette] and Killian [Garland]. It’s a familiar place I used to surf when I was a kid. It was pretty much textbook, but I got lucky at the same time. If you surf there a lot, you know what the waves can do.

How may contests have you won at Trestles?
Seven.

How many times have you won the E-Series?
Like three times, I think. Jus do what I like doing.

Even though you’re a big-time WQS warrior, why do you still like the Macy’s E-Series?
Get all the boys I used to surf with when we was young, li’dat. Remind me of the old days when I was young boy jus surfing wherever my dad take me. It jus reunites all the older guys who we used to look up to and they surf ‘um too. It’s good fo jus surf where we used to surf when we was young. Seeing the other guys you no see fo long time.

Where’s your favorite Macy’s E-Series stop?
Bowls. It’s one of my favorite waves. It’s mechanical. If you not from Town, that’s the place you gotta know is Bowls. All the old-school legends surf there. That’s one of the places you gotta know how fo surf ‘um.