World surfing champ Mick Fanning is lucky to be alive after a close call with a shark.
The Australian surfer was just minutes into the World Surf League's J-Bay Open in South Africa when he sensed something looming near him in the water.
“I was just sitting there -- I was just about to start moving and then I felt something grab…get stuck in my leg rope,” Fanning, 34, told FoxSports
. “I instantly just jumped away, and he kept coming at my board. I was just kicking and screaming."
"I was waiting for the teeth to come at me," he added.
The shark knocked Fanning off his surfboard as it whipped around in the water, and that's when he took matters into his own hands. He told World Surf League TV
that he punched the shark in the back to escape what could've been a disastrous outcome.
Luckily, Fanning fled the scene unharmed.
“I just can’t believe it," he said. "I’m just tripping... To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked."
The World Surf League immediately canceled the competition, citing safety concerns. "We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today," the organization said in a statement released after the incident. "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 -- they are truly world class at what they do."
Fanning isn't the only one breathing a sigh of relief -- his friends, peers and loved ones are also grateful for his safety.
It's incredible Fanning came out of this unscathed!
Speaking of survivors, "Soul Surfer" Bethany Hamilton lost her arm during a shark attack at age 13. Check out this candid interview with her below: