The 32-year-old was forced to withdraw from the current men’s tour event in Puerto Rico. His family has confirmed he was found dead in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday after being too ill to board a connecting flight home to Kauai. There are reports he died from dengue fever.
Irons claimed three consecutive world titles from 2002 to 2004. ASP international media manager Dave Prodan says Irons’s death is a massive blow to the world sporting community.
“This is in my opinion one of the most devastating losses, not just to the surfing world, but to the international sporting community in general,” he said from Puerto Rico. ”Obviously Andy was more than just a three-time ASP world champion. He was a hero to literally millions of kids who surfed and who didn’t surf around the world, and to grown-ups as well.
“I can’t imagine the impact this is going to have but it’s certainly something that we will feel the world over for many years to come.”
Mr Prodan says ASP extends its thoughts and sympathies to Irons’s family. ”It’s a massive blow here to everyone in Puerto Rico just finding out in the last hour, so we’re all sorting through the feelings at the moment … it’s an incredible shock,” he said.
“Andy has been a staple in the professional sporting world for over a decade and this year marked a rebuilding year for him and he’s been winning events and surfing incredibly well.
“I think throughout his career people would say that he is one of the healthiest, strongest individuals you’ve ever met.” Irons is the only professional surfer to win at every location on the world tour, racking up 19 victories in a terrific career.
He was one of the few surfers to consistently match nine-time world champion and fellow American Kelly Slater. Irons’s last event win came in Tahiti in early September.