Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
American, 24, Surfing
Surfing’s poster boy, so good they named him twice
Key partners: Hurley, Monster Energy, Nixon, Pyzel Surfboards, Stance, Spy Optic
2016 ranking: New entry
John John Florence has been surfing’s anointed one since he was a knee-high with a knack for making intimidating waves look toothless. Now, he’s a world champion with his best years still ahead of him.
A salty throwback to a blonder time for surfing, the 2016 World Surf League (WSL) world champion is a classically trained, effortlessly talented competitor who is maturing into an all-round athlete. After a brief period of Brazilian domination on the WSL’s elite circuit, Florence has taken competitive surfing’s top honour back to America, returning the lustre of a world title to Hawaii and, specifically, Oahu’s North Shore, the sport’s spiritual heartland he calls home.
“We’ve all watched him since he was seven or eight surfing around the North Shore and paddling out at Pipe. I think if he didn’t win [the world title], it would seem like the natural order was out of place.” - Kelly Slater, 11-time world champion.
At 24, Florence is the new poster boy for the WSL and already an icon of his sport. His late 2015 biopic, the big-budget View from a Blue Moon, is widely regarded as one of the best surf films ever made, while his honed consistency in contests has elicited comparisons with his personal mentor, the great Kelly Slater.
Surfing’s inclusion at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics presents an opportunity to introduce more people around the world to the sport. For Florence in particular, it could be a breakout moment. ML