Former pro-surfer dies after being punched outside pub in Australia

Former pro-surfer Chris Davidson has died after allegedly being punched outside a pub (Pierre Tostee/AFP via Getty Images)
Former pro-surfer Chris Davidson has died after allegedly being punched outside a pub (Pierre Tostee/AFP via Getty Images)

A former professional surfer has died after being punched in the face outside a pub.

Chris Davidson, 45, allegedly fell and hit his head on the pavement during the incident in the town of South West Rocks in New South Wales on Saturday evening.

Police found him unconscious shortly after 11pm and he was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to hospital, where he later died.

A 42-year-old man was arrested at about 12.40am and later charged with assault causing death.

He was denied bail and was due to appear at Port Macquarie Bail Court on Sunday.

Davidson grew up surfing at North Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches and competed on the world professional surfing tour in 2010 and 2011.

He famously beat reigning world champion Kelly Slater in two consecutive heats in 1996 after being granted a wildcard entry in the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.

Paying tribute to the surfer, affectionately known as “Davo”, Slater wrote on Instagram: “Lost another soldier yesterday. #RIPChrisDavo. Had many a good battle with this guy. One of the most naturally talented surfers I ever knew.”

Friend Nathan Hedge told Nine’s Today show Davidson’s death was tragic, saying: "This is the worst thing ever ... not only Chris’s life being taken from us, the other person’s life is shattered and ruined as well.”

Mr Hedge said Davidson was a unique character, kind-hearted, charismatic and the life of the party, adding: “He just wanted to make sure you had a good time as well.”

Surfing Australia said its thoughts went out to Davidson’s two children, friends and family.

The organisation added on Facebook: “Davo was an incredibly talented surfer and a true individual in our sport and community.”

The World Surf League said it was saddened to learn of Davidson’s death, adding: “Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

New South Wales Police said in a statement: “Shortly after 11pm (Saturday 24 September), emergency services were called to Sportsmans Way, South West Rocks, after reports a man had allegedly been punched to the face outside a licenced premises and fell to the ground, hitting his head on the pavement.

“Officers from Mid North Coast Police District attended and located a 45-year-old man unconscious.

“He was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics before being taken to Kempsey Hospital, where he died a short time later.

“Following inquiries, a 42-year-old man was arrested at a home in South West Rocks about 12.40am and was taken to Kempsey Police Station.

“He was charged with assault causing death and refused bail to appear before Port Macquarie Bail Court today (Sunday 25 September 2022).”