Written by Neil Pearlberg
On this week’s Off The Lip Radio Show, we discuss the rise and fall of champion surfer, Anthony Ruffo, in an exclusive LIVE INTERVIEW. Tune-in on Tuesday night from 7-8PM PST on 1080 AM KSCO out of Santa Cruz, California, also streaming from inside the studio on TheSurfChannel.com.
“I fell victim to my own addictive thinking. I broke a golden rule and it landed me back in jail,” Ruffo said.
Anthony Ruffo, along with a contingent of his supporters sitting in the court pews behind him, peered up at Judge Paul Marigonda intently listening to his findings, all ready to cheer on their friend’s impending victory in court Feb. 21st, 2012. Ruffo — one of Santa Cruz’s most influential surfers — had plans that afternoon to head downtown after his day in court, to celebrate his continued freedom.
His plans, however, were immanently changed when Judge Marigonda remanded Ruffo on the spot. He sentenced Ruffo to two years in state prison, two years in a sheriff’s custody program, and one year of county probation supervision for selling methamphetamine.
Ruffo, 48, did go downtown that day — to Santa Cruz County jail.
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“I want to take this moment to apologize to my family, to my friends and the surfing community and the community of Santa Cruz.”
Anthony Ruffo won the first Coldwater Classic in 1985. Twenty years later, 11x World Champion Kelly Slater met up with Ruffo at the same contest held at Steamer Lane:
“The champ asked me how I was doing, and that he had been worried about me,” Ruffo said. “To not only have Slater, but so many others during the contest come up to me with well-wishes, not only meant the world to me, but made me realize that I was under the scrutiny of the surfing world.”
Ruffo’s critics “inundated” prosecutors with emails about how his meth dealing destroyed young surfers’ lives. Families were torn apart and drug addictions fueled burglaries and other crimes across Santa Cruz, some claimed.
Ruffo re-entered society with the help of the Friends Outside organization, a nonprofit community based organization that helps those who have been incarcerated find a new direction. With its help, Ruffo built a schedule and a resume, which enabled him to attend classes, look for work and, above all, stay out of the place that he so desperately wanted to return to: the ocean.
Critically acclaimed as to one of the most important films in the history of surfing, “Learning to Breathe” explores every angle of the controvery, sharing the story of a rapid downward spiral one pro athlete faced as he was surfing his way to the top. Directed and produced by The Go Big Project, Learning to Breathe is an up close and personal look at the troubled evolution of former professional surfer, Anthony Ruffo. Watch the trailer:
“This film has been a long and difficult journey, but the story was too important not to tell,” stated Romano.