Former Australian surfing star Chris Davidson dies after alleged assault on mid-north coast
Former surfing star Chris Davidson has died after an alleged assault on the New South Wales mid-north coast.
Tributes have started to flow for the 45-year-old, with fellow Australian surfer and former world champion Mark Occhilupo saying it was "tragic news".
Just after 11pm on Saturday night, police were called to Sportsmans Way at South West Rocks following reports Mr Davidson had allegedly been punched in the head outside a licensed premise.
The Sydney-born surfer fell to the ground, hitting his head on the pavement, and was unconscious before being treated by paramedics.
He was taken to Kempsey Hospital where he died a short time later.
A 42-year-old man has been arrested and charged with assault causing death.
Mr Davidson, affectionately known as "Davo", had represented Australia in competitions around the world, including the 2009 Billabong Pro in Spain, where he reached the final but was eliminated by Brazil's Adriano de Souza.
His long relationship with the Rip Curl Search team started at a young age, where along with friend Mick Fanning he shot a number of free-surfing films.
Renowned surf magazine Tracks called him "one of the most gifted surfers in the world" at the height of his powers.
Mr Occhilupo said "Davo" was an amazing but very underrated surfer.
"At a young age he took down Kelly Slater a couple of times down at Bells Beach," he said.
"He always really shaped up, even if he was behind the eight ball, he always manned up and got the job done … He wasn't the guy you would like to draw in a heat."
The last time the two saw each other, "Davo" was really happy.
"I only had just done something with Chris last year," Mr Occhilupo said.
"We did a podcast together on stage, a live one down at Port Macquarie and he was real happy — you know, he's had some tough times through his life but it seemed like he was in a good spot."
Surfing NSW executive director Mark Windon said he had hear rumours today that Mr Davidson had died, before he saw social media posts and received a few phone calls confirming.
Mr Windon said he "couldn't believe it" when he heard the news.
"[Mr Davidson] was a larger-than-life character, and for his life to finish that way is really sad," he said.
"He was one of the most stylish surfers we'd ever produced in this country. He was an absolute prodigious talent and as flamboyant as he was in the water."
He added Mr Davidson was just a great bloke who was "right up there at the top of the professional world for quite a few years, and on his day could beat anyone".
The surfing community is expected to get together in the next few days.
"We'll have to get together like we always do, and will do a big paddle out for him," Mr Occhilupo said.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
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