This Is Shama (The Superman)

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Ambassador Shama Beckford lives like he surfs— with a style that’s completely his own.

Everything Shama chooses to do, whether it’s in the water or not, seems to have a natural flow to it—it’s like he’s just fully immersed in every moment that he finds himself in. And while he remains proud of his roots in Jamaica and of the hard work it’s taken to get him where he is today, he keeps a level head and a humble heart as he inspires the next generation to do the things they love most, their own way.

Check out the full interview with Shama below.

So, tell us more about the place you call home.
Bull Bay is a very special place to me. It's a perfect balance between easygoing, good waves, good music, and good people. And it's a nice getaway from the city. It's close enough to the city so you don't feel like you're in the country, but it's the perfect distance to get that peace of mind and time to really focus on what you love to do. And just the different characters that I grew up encountering out here make this place very special to me.

How would you describe the local surf scene in Jamaica. Can you tell us how the Wilmot Family has influenced you and your life?
Yeah, man. So, with Jamaica being such a small surf community, Jamnesia Surf Camp was kind of the hub for all surfers coming into the sport. And because the community is so small, we always would meet there and then go surfing. Nobody really wants to surf alone, so you kind of have to call people and be like, yo, let's link at Jamnesia, and then decide where we're going to surf after. So, as a kid, I spent most of the summer over there. It felt like I lived there. I just slept here at home and then in the mornings I would just go there, hang out, be around like-minded people, and people that have a positive influence on life, even outside of surfing. I feel like as a kid, having that hub and having that environment was really important for me.

In your opinion, what makes Jamaican surf culture different than other surfers around the world?
In Jamaica is important for everybody to find their own style and cultivate it.

We all take pride in having our own styles and try to encourage each other to own their individual way of surfing. It really makes up a community of surfers where everyone’s always trying to motivate each other. Obviously, you're going to have a little bit of competitiveness growing up surfing with your friends, but at the same time, if somebody does something sick, everybody's cheering for them and rooting them on. It really helped us build friendships and build love for surfing and our community. I think you get closer because of things like that.

“Being ‘super’ can mean anything. You can be super at your desk job and at being an accountant. It's just about having no limitation, whatever you’re doing.”

Shama talking into bullhorn

How’d you get your nickname?
‘Shama the Superman’ is actually from when I was probably in high school, I was writing rhymes and I was, like, “Shama the Superman faster than a speeding bullet.” And then one day I just randomly put it as my Instagram thing and two days after somebody was like, yo, Superman. And I was like, all right, yeah, that's staying. And then I just left it since then. But yeah.

Do you have a motto or words you live by?
I feel like I come up with new words to live by almost every day. People sometimes think of my Instagram name as being cheesy, the way I look at ‘Shama the Superman’ or being super is having no limitations, but it is really how I see it. If you actually find interest in something, or if you love what you’re doing and give it your all, you can excel in it. Being ‘super’ can mean anything. You can be super at your desk job and at being an accountant. It's just about having no limitation, whatever you’re doing. And I would say, appreciating the small things. That’s really important too.

We find that a lot of surfers skate as well. Can we hear more about how skateboarding got integrated in your life?
Before I moved here, when I was super young, my older brother had a skateboard and when he would go out to school every day I remember taking a skateboard down the driveway and that's kind of when I really got into skateboarding. So, long before I knew what surfing was, what the sea was, I was on a skateboard sitting or kneeling, going down the driveway. And then when I moved here and saw people skateboarding and surfing I just went straight into it.

“So, the origin of the Gully Skatepark is that it was originally built as a sewage system.”

Shama at a skate park

All right. We got to know about this ‘Gully Park’. What's the origin story there and how has it evolved?
The origin of the Gully Skatepark is that it was originally built as a sewage system. And almost at the end of the completion of the gully, the citizens of the community protested against it and called it off. So, there was no longer going to be a sewage treatment plant, but the structure was there. So, the gully was just there doing nothing for years. As kids, we’d go street skating and we get chased by security.

Then around 2014, I remember it just clicked. I was like, “yo, we should build a DIY skate park.” And then I just started rallying my friends, Iva, Gio, and a couple of other guys, and my brother Gabriel too, and we just started building in the gully. The first ramp I ever built was a wooden ramp. I remember saving money to build it, got the ramp built, took it down there, had two good sessions on it, and then somebody stole it and used the wood for whatever, but it was gone. And after that I was like, all right, we have to build stuff nobody can move. So, we started building with concrete, and that was a whole journey.

I remember how much fun we had skating that next day, man, it was such a shitty ramp but after that, it is like, all right, let's put some more brain power into this and see how we can build some proper stuff.

“I want it to be, if you're seeing me from a hundred yards and it's dark and I do a turn, you know that's Shama surfing.”

Shama surfing

Seems like a lot of people look up to you. So, I'm wondering if you had any advice for upcoming groms?
The best advice I have for groms is to have a goal, but also a reason behind that goal that you keep coming back to. Because when you are young and you’re thinking in the back of your mind that you wanna be a pro surfer one day, right? But don't let that goal be the reason why you go surfing every day, or why you go skateboarding every day. Do it because you're having fun doing it. And when you’re having fun doing something, that's the fastest way to progress because you don't have pressure on yourself and you're just enjoying it and giving yourself that space to grow.

Earlier you talked about how important personal style is to surfing in Jamaica, can get a little more into what it means to you?
Yeah, man, style means a lot to me, man. As I was saying earlier, it is like your style and your approach to it is your identity.

So much so that if you could only see a silhouette of Rob surfing and not see his face, or even if you made him bald, took away his hair and just had a silhouette of him surfing across the screen, you would know that it's him. And that's like your identity, just the way how you approach the wave, the way all your body looks, the way you flow through turns. And yeah, I want it to be, if you're walking on the beach and you're seeing me from a hundred yards and it's dark and you see me do a turn, you know that's Shama surfing because of the style, and that's my identity.

Shama skating