‘The Man Who fell To The Couch’ was an excellent story written on the rise and fall of Australian legend Mark Occhilupo.
One of the greatest up-and coming goofy-footers in the world, Occy rose to prominence in 1984 when he arrived out of the blue and won the Country Feeling Classic at JBay in excellent conditions, redefining backhand surfing at that iconic pointbreak.
It was said that the waves seemed to slow down when Occ was riding Supertubes, but all that was happening as that he was surfing so superhumanly fast that the perspective changed.
Occy had a subsequent mental and emotional breakdown and disappeared for a few years before launching a comeback that went all the way to him winning a world title in 1999.
Place of Birth
Kurnell, New South Wales
Tweed Heads, New South Wales
Year of Birth
June 16, 1966
194 lbs (88 kg)
5 ft, 9 in (175cm)
1984 Men’s CT
Table of Contents
#654 Men’s QS 2019
8.74 Avg. heat score
3.12 Avg. wave score
Men’s Championship Tour
Gotcha Tahiti Pro – 1st place 1,000 points Quiksilver Pro Fiji – 1st place 1,000 points Billabong Pro – 1st place 1,000 points
Rip Curl Pro – 1st place 1,000 points
OP Pro – 1st place BHP Steel International – 1st place
Gunston 500 – 1st place OP Pro – 1st place Swan Margaret River Thriller – 1st place
Country Feeling Classic – 1st place Tutti Frutti Lacanau Pro – 1st place Beaurepaires Open – 1st place
Marco began surfing at the age of nine, and soon moved to neighboring Cronulla.
Marco won his first amateur schoolboys’ contest at 13 and followed up with two Cadet State Titles. After the 10th grade, he left home as an ASP trialist. Virtually unnoticed, he advanced to the Top 16 at year’s end and secured a seed for the following year.
In 1984, at age 17, Occhilupo’s high performance standards took him to the top of the ASP ratings.
At Jeffreys Bay, his powerful and aggressive style were an advantage in backside surfing. Occhilupo hovered around the top five in the rankings, and was becoming popular in the United States when Tom Curren was at the peak of his career.
Occhilupo won in 1985 after beating Curren in a three-heat final and again in the 1986 Op.
Marco struggled with depression and substance abuse during his years on the tour, and eventually, exhausted by his lifestyle, he threw a quarterfinal heat at the Op, headed home to Cronulla, and quit the World Tour.
Over the next several years, he made a couple of half-hearted comeback attempts and remained in the public eye as a repeating star of Jack McCoy’s Billabong videos. He married Beatrice Ballardie in 1993 and built a house near Kirra. After reaching a weight of 111-kilos, he began a training program under McCoy in Western Australia that helped him shed 34 kilos and regained his form.
Occhilupo re-entered professional surfing in 1995, and after some major wins won the world title in 1999 at age 33.
He has since retired and lives in Bilambil Heights, New South Wales, with his wife Beatrice and stepson Rainer. He made a comeback return for an international surfing event in 2019 after 20 years and competed in So Sri Lanka Pro 2019. However he recorded a modest score of 8.74 and was knocked out of Round 3 of the event.
Marco Occhilupo has no sponsors as he has retired from surfing.
Mark Occhilupo’s signature model surfboard is the JS Occy or “Raging Bull”.
1. “I do feel a kinship for sure. I admire those guys who’ve won hat-tricks like Andy, and obviously Kelly who’s won seven, that’s amazing stuff. I think the average surfer thinks it’s amazing. The guys who win our championships, they’re so amazing.”
2. “I’m pretty superstitious, I want to do everything right, get my routine right, and I wait for waves. I kinda try to sense the ocean coming together for me.”
3. “I remember thinking, “Far out, I can’t believe this,” when I started riding waves. Then I was starting to imagine where it could take me.”
4. “I still get the feeling I got when I started, that’s why I’m still doing it after all these years, I still get that full adrenalin rush before I compete.”
Other Activities and Interests
1. Occhilupo is currently a presenter on the Australian cable television channel Fuel TV.
2. He currently operates a successful podcast called the Occ-Cast which features Occhilupo talking to some of the most famous and interesting people in surfing, including Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning.
3. Mark Occhilupo owns a world’s-first wave pool in Central Queensland.
Interesting Facts about Mark Occhilupo
1. Mark Occhilupo was a contestant in the 2011 season of the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars on Channel Seven, and was partnered with Jade Brand. They were the third couple to be eliminated from the competition.
2. Marco’s surname, Occhilupo, is Italian and means “eyes of the wolf.” However, his nickname is “The Raging Bull.