Former surfing champ dies after alleged one-punch assault

Former surfing star Chris Davidson has died after an alleged one-punch assault outside a pub on the NSW mid-north coast.

Davidson had allegedly been punched in the face and fell to the ground hitting his head,knocking the 45-year-old unconscious,police said.

Former surfing champion Chris Davidson died after an alleged one-punch assault outside a pub in NSW mid-north coast.

Former surfing champion Chris Davidson died after an alleged one-punch assault outside a pub in NSW mid-north coast.Instagram

Grant Coleman,42,has been charged with assault causing death. He is the brother of Waratahs coach Darren Coleman,who had driven to the mid-north coast on Sunday to support his family.

Emergency services were called to Sportsmans Way in South West Rocks just after 11pm on Saturday.

Davidson was treated at the scene by the paramedics and taken to Kempsey Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

As a 15-year-old,Davidson,who grew up at Narrabeen,won the 1991 Cadet Cup and three years later was the Australian under-18 amateur champion.

Grant Coleman.

Grant Coleman.Supplied

In 1996,at 19,Davidson was given a wildcard into the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in Victoria and famously defeated Kelly Slater in two consecutive heats.

“Beating him was unreal,the best thing that could have happened at the moment,” Davidson toldThe Australian in 1996. “He’s got something to lose out there. He’s the world champion,he’s surfing against someone who’s just come along and trying to beat him.

“I’d be worried too if I was world champion and some grommet came along and just beat me.”

Slater posted a tribute to Davidson on Instagram on Sunday.

“Lost another soldier yesterday. #RipChrisDavo. Had many a good battle with this guy. One of the most naturally talented surfers I ever knew,” the post from Slater read.

Pro surfer Chris Davidson at the Billabong Pro in Baiko,Spain 2003.

Pro surfer Chris Davidson at the Billabong Pro in Baiko,Spain 2003.Reuters

Nathan Hedge,who surfed with Davidson at Narrabeen,also paid tribute. “He had a huge heart and lived full throttle,” Hedge toldTracks magazine. “Love ya bradda Davo.”

Police arrested Grant Coleman at his home about 30 minutes after the alleged assault. He was charged with assault causing death. He was refused bail and due to appear before Port Macquarie Bail Court on Sunday.

A crime scene was established at the location and was examined by a forensics team on Sunday morning.

The Coleman family grew up at South West Rocks. Their late father Greg Coleman played three first grade rugby league matches for Penrith in the 1970s.

The Coleman brothers attended Melville High School in South Kempsey.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories,analysis and insights.Sign up here.

Abby Seaman is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald

Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald

Most Viewed in National