Marco Jay Luciano Occhilupo flayed the wave face even as he caressed it; no surfer before or since has married raw strength with refined precision quite so completely. Not that the marriage hasn’t had its ups and downs. Occy struggled with his fitness at various stages over the course of his illustrious career, his weight generally fluctuating in line with his alcohol and pie intake, and in inverse proportion to his competitive success.
A thickset but decidedly lean 17-year old rookie in ‘83, Occy followed up a promising first season on tour with several successive years in the top five. A world title seemed imminent, but his behaviour became increasingly erratic towards the end of the ‘80s, and as his results began to decline his mental and physical health followed suit. In 1990, having dropped off tour and moved in with his parents, he piled on 50 pounds. He shed them soon enough and returned to competition in ’92, but this particular comeback proved short-lived; again he dropped off tour and moved back to Australia, this time to the Gold Coast, where he more or less gave up surfing and put on 80 pounds, reaching a maximum of 245. "Billabong were still paying me,” he later said
, “but it got to the point where I was so fat, they couldn't even use me in magazine commercials.”
After scarcely leaving the couch for a year, he resolved to get back into shape and headed to Western Australia, where he underwent an intensive training program -- parodied in the Jack McCoy classic The Occumentary
-- that entailed, amongst other things, sit-ups to the tune of a thousand a day. He rejoined the tour in ’97, finishing the year in third, and won his maiden world title two years later, securing his status as one of surfing’s most treasured personalities.