Argentinian surfer Martin Passeri was not disqualified during competition for kind act

The video depicting Martin Passeri’s selfless act misled many media outlets into believing Passeri was disqualified from a competition surf. A different, shorter cut of the video had been released originally, but has since been made private.

A video depicting Argentinian surfer Martin Passeri sacrificing a competition slot to give a paraplegic man, Nicolás Gallegos, a ride on his back instead of paddling out for his heat has been called a fake.

While Passeri did give Gallegos an epic ride, he did not perform the stunt during competition.

Martin Passeri (left) and Nicolás Gallegos before hitting the waves.
Martin Passeri (left) and Nicolás Gallegos before hitting the waves.
While many reports, including those from the Huffington Post and Us Weekly as well as GrindTV, have stated that the act occurred at a “national Argentine Surf Championship,” GrindTV has learned that the competition in question was the Corona Reef Classic held in Playa Mariano, Argentina, in January. Reports have also stated that due to Passeri’s “selfless act,” the surfer was disqualified from the competition.

According to a statement to GrindTV from the Asociación de Surf Argentina, Passeri was not disqualified for committing the selfless act. Instead, the association says, surfer Santiago Muniz out-skilled Passeri and won the competition. They also stated that the area in which the video was filmed is different than that of the competition.

Passeri has confirmed that the footage shown in the video did occur prior to the competition.

“All of what happened was during the week of the event in progress. We [rode] the wave with Nicolas before competing,” said Passeri in an email to GrindTV Friday. “We didn’t ride the wave during my heat … for [fear that] I [would be] disqualified for that.”

Martin Passeri (far left) celebrates successful run with Nicolás Gallegos.
Martin Passeri (far left) celebrates a successful ride with Nicolás Gallegos.
Passeri noted that the footage was shot during practice and that he intended to carry out the stunt during competition, but ultimately did not.

“… Attempting [to stand] tall was harder than I thought,” said Passeri. “I felt in quarters, legs sore, back pain but full of joy with [seeing] this guy’s smile.”

While Passeri may not have given up a potential contest win, he did make a man’s dream come true.

“I always look forward and try the most to focus on the positive things … I’ve never thought this case can cause them [the Asociación de Surf Argentina] such a reaction,” said Passeri. “Those two waves were the best I’ve ever rode.”

Asociación de Surf Argentina’s full statement (in Spanish) is below:

ACLARACIÓN E INFORME
Ante noticias aparecidas referidas a la supuesta descalificación del señor Martín Passeri de una fecha del Circuito Argentino de Surf , basados en la causal de haber transportado a un joven parapléjico para que surfeara por primera vez una ola , la Asociación de Surf Argentina se hace un deber INFORMAR:-
1) Que efectivamente, tomó conocimiento del gesto del señor Martín Passeri de haber cumplido el sueño de surfear una ola del joven Nicolás Gallegos quien, por su estado físico le resultaba imposible.-
2) Que en una actitud que lo enaltece , el citado señor Passeri , y en la playa WAIKIKI (Punta Mogotes) , procedió a cumplir con el referido sueño y puso sobre sus hombros al nombrado Nicolás Gallegos ,y de esa manera pudo surfear una ola .-
3) Que con fecha 17 al 23 de enero, la Asociación de Surf Argentina fiscalizo un torneo de surf ( REEF 2015) , el que se desarrolló en la Playa “MARIANO” de Mar del Plata . O sea, en un ámbito absolutamente diferente de aquél utilizado por el señor Passeri para realizar su obra de bien.-
4) Que en el referido torneo, los jueces consideraron que el joven SANTIAGO MUÑIZ, debía ser considerado ganador del torneo, por la capacidad exhibida y la calidad de su actuación en las olas.
5) Que – obviamente – , el hecho que otro participante haya surfeado mejor que el señor Passeri ( a criterio de los jueces designados ) , no implica mas que eso :- una evaluación de un participante mejor que la de otro . Hecho este para el cual esta Asociación considera encontrarse perfectamente calificada.-
6) Que sin embargo, han aparecido noticias engañosas respecto a los hechos que se han relatado, pretendiendo que esta la Asociación de Surf Argentina habría descalificado al señor Martín Passeri como consecuencia del noble gesto que le tuvo como protagonista.
Y tal cosa es FALSA, por todo lo que precedentemente hemos expuesto.-
Muchas Gracias
ASOCIACIÓN DE SURF ARGENTINA

EDIT 5/29/15, 6:30 p.m. PST: A link to the original version of the video has been added to the caption at the top of this story.

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