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Video captures the moment when Australian surfer Mick Fanning fights off an attacking shark during the World Surfing League competition. Photo: Handout

Australia’s shark-punching Fanning to hang up his surfboard

The surfer who won worldwide fame after escaping the jaws of a great white during competition in 2015 to retire as a professional


Australian Mick Fanning has done it all from winning three world titles to punching a shark but time has caught up with the surfing icon, who will retire as a professional next month.

The 36-year-old, nicknamed “White Lightning”, announced on Wednesday that he will hang up his surfboard in March after the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, where he won his first Champions Tour title as a wildcard in 2001.

Fanning claimed world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2013 but grabbed international headlines for his encounters with two sharks in three years at the J-Bay Open.

Mick Fanning surfs during the Pipeline Masters event of the Vans Triple Crown at Ehukai Beach Park in Haleiwa, Hawaii. Photo: AFP

He was dragged off his board and had to punch a great white to escape before being helped from the water in South Africa in 2015 live on TV, the footage of the attack being seen more than 25 million times on YouTube.

Watch: Surfer Mick Fanning encounters a great white

Another encounter two years later saw him being plucked to safety.

“I’ve decided the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will be my last event as a full-time competitor on the World Surf League Championship Tour,” Fanning wrote on Instagram on Wednesday.

Fanning during the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal surfing event as part of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour at Supertubos Beach in Peniche, Portugal. Photo: EPA

“The tour has given me so much but I need a fresh challenge. I still love the game but can’t find the motivation and dedication required to compete for world titles any more.

“I will be competing at the opening event at home on the Gold Coast and then wrapping things up at the Rip Curl Pro.”