Legendary former pro-surfer Chris Davidson is believed to be the victim of a lethal attack in a country bar in the Australian state of New South Wales. Davidson was reportedly punched in the face outside of South West Rocks Country Club in South West Rocks on Saturday around 11 p.m., causing Davidson to fall and hit his head on the pavement. He was treated by paramedics before being rushed to Kempsey Hospital where he died of his injuries, according to police. He was 45 years old. It is unknown what sparked the argument but a crime scene has been established at the location.
The attacker is alleged to be Grant Coleman, the brother of NSW Waratahs head rugby union coach, Darren Coleman, the Daily Telegraph reported. He was arrested at a home in South West Rocks around 12:40 a.m.—about 30 minutes after the attack—and charged with assault causing death. According to the Daily Mail, he has also been slapped with “a new charge of choking the victim.”
In his prime, Davidson was heralded as one of the greatest surfers alive, and was ranked at #14 internationally in the sport in 2010.
At just 15, the Narrabeen native won the 1991 Cadet Cup. Four years later he was allowed into the prestigious Rip Curl Pro tournament at Bells Beach where he defeated the world champion, Kelly Slater, in two consecutive heats.
Tributes have flowed for Davidson, including from his former competitor, Slater.
“Lost another soldier yesterday. #RipChrisDavo. Had many a good battle with this guy. One of the most naturally talented surfers I ever knew,” Slater wrote on Instagram Sunday.
“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,” Surfing NSW executive director Mark Windon shared with Australian outlet ABC, calling Davidson a “larger-than-life character.”
According to the Daily Mail, Coleman fronted Kempsey Local Court on Monday, local time. No bail application was made and it was formally refused. His lawyer, James Janke, told the Mail that his client “did not want to comment and maintains his right to silence.” He will face court again November.
Rest In Peace, Chris Davidson. ❤️
A supremely talented surfer who inspired a generation when he burst onto the scene as a teenager.
Our condolences, love and respect to Davo’s family, friends and the communities affected by his loss.
📸 Ted Grambeau / Kirstin Scholtz pic.twitter.com/nsDBOBBGaf
— Rip Curl (@ripcurl) September 26, 2022