On Sunday evening, Australian surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a shark on live television while competing in an event in the 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League Championship Tour in South Africa. Fanning kept his cool long enough to remember how to fend off such an attack: start throwing punches.

“It came up and got stuck in my leg rope,” said Fanning in an interview with an Australian news site. “I instantly just jumped away. It kept coming at my board and I was kicking and screaming. I just saw fins; I didn’t see teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me. I punched it in the back.”

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“I felt like it was dragging me underwater and then my leg rope broke so I started swimming and screaming,” he continued. “I just can’t believe it, I’m just tripping out.”

Fanning was shortly scooped onto a rescue jet ski by safety crews. The competition was canceled after the incident, and Fanning split the first place prize money with fellow Aussie surfer Julian Wilson.

“We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today,” said WSL commissioner Kieren Perrow in a statement. “Mick’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic and the rapid response of our Water safety personnel was commendable.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.