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As Surfing Champion Mick Fanning Announces Retirement, Media Recall His Famed Shark Encounters
Australian Mick Fanning has done it all from winning three world titles to punching a shark but time has caught up with the surfing icon, who will retire as a professional next month. The 36-year-old, nicknamed “White Lightning,” announced on Wednesday, Feb. 28, that he will hang up his surfboard in March after the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, where he won his first Champions Tour title as a wildcard in 2001. Fanning claimed world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2013 but grabbed international headlines for his encounters with two sharks in three years at the J-Bay Open. In the video, captured in South Africa in 2015, Fanning is seen being dragged off his board by a great white shark. He then punches the shark to escape before being helped from the water. The footage of the attack was seen more than 25 million times on YouTube. Another encounter two years later saw him being plucked to safety. "I've decided the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach will be my last event as a full-time competitor on the World Surf League Championship Tour," Fanning wrote on Instagram on Wednesday.