Former surf star Chris Davidson dead at 45 after being punched in bar fight, police say

SYDNEY, Australia — Former Australian surfing star Chris Davidson, 45, died Saturday after being punched outside a pub near Sydney, police confirmed.

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According to the BBC, Davidson was struck in the face and hit his head on the pavement. He died a short while later at an area hospital.

The fight erupted outside Sportsmans Way just after 11 p.m., The Guardian reported, noting that police arrested a 42-year-old man in South West Rocks early Sunday and charged him with assault causing death.

Davidson, a Sydney native, was catapulted to fame in 1996 when, at the age of 19, he beat reigning world champion Kelly Slater in two consecutive heats as a wildcard entry during the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia, the BBC reported.

“Had many a good battle with this guy. One of the most naturally talented surfers I ever knew,” Slater, an 11-time world champion, wrote on Instagram.

Davidson later competed on the world surfing tour in 2010 and 2011, the BBC reported.

According to The Guardian, his best result was a tie for third at the 2010 Portugal event, when he was narrowly defeated by Slater, who won the event.

“I felt like I surfed pretty well against Kelly, but when he goes and pulls a 360 Alley-Oop on a nothing wave, it’s hard to fight back,” Davidson told surfing magazine Tracks at the time.

According to local Australian media, the suspect was refused bail on Monday and is next due in court in November, the BBC reported.