Tough guys the world over have a new idol: 52-year-old Craig Ison, a former champion boxer from Australia, who was attacked by a great white shark Friday morning at Evans Head, and simply punched the animal repeatedly until it backed off.
Friend and fellow surfer Geoff Hill told the Associated Press that all he could see was Ison and the shark’s tail as Ison “got a couple of punches in.” He said it was “like watching Mick Fanning in replay,” referring to surfer Fanning’s escape from a shark attack on live TV earlier this month.
However, Ison didn’t fare as well as Fanning, who walked away shaken but unharmed. Ison suffered serious lacerations to his hands from the shark’s rough skin, and the animal bit him severely on his upper thigh and hip, leaving a 15-inch bite mark. He improvised a tourniquet by tying his surfboard’s leg ropes “around his thigh area to try and stop the bleeding,” Hill said.
“The leg was a bit of a mess, taken a bit of flesh but the muscle is intact,” he added. He later told the Associated Press that before he could go to Ison’s aid, the former boxer had bound his leg, had gotten back on his board and was paddling for shore.
Ison was rushed to a hospital by paramedics and admitted in serious but stable condition, though another friend, Tom Augustan, later told the Sydney Morning Herald that there had been a “turn of events” and that Ison was facing complications from surgery.
Ison’s former trainer Denis Magnay told The Northern Star that he was “not surprised” that Ison took on the shark. Magnay trained Ison to the Far North Coast championship in 1991.
“I heard Craig punched the shark my son told me, and I said, ‘Yep, that would be bloody right. That’s him.’ “