By Ben Morse, CNN
Former Australian surfer Chris Davidson has died aged 45 after being punched outside a pub in Australia.
Police said they were called to a pub on Saturday evening in South West Rocks, New South Wales, after reports a man had allegedly been punched in the face outside the premises.
According to the police, the man had fallen to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.
When officers arrived, they found a 45-year-old man unconscious. He was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to the hospital, where he died a short time later.
Specialist officers were sent to the crime scene. Shortly afterwards, a 42-year-old man was arrested in connection with the death. He was charged with assault causing death and refused bail to appear before the Port Macquarie Bail Court on Sunday.
Surfing Australia said in a statement that it and the surfing community were mourning the loss of Davidson.
“Surfing Australia and the surfing community are mourning the loss of former WSL Championship Tour surfer Chris Davidson, who passed away at Kempsey Hospital on Saturday evening,” it said on Facebook.
“Davo was an incredibly talented surfer and a true individual in our sport and community. Our thoughts go out to his two children, friends and family at this time.”
Eleven-time World Surf League champion Kelly Slater, who Davidson beat in two consecutive heats at Bells Beach as a 19-year-old, wild-card entrant in 1996, paid tribute to Davidson on Instagram.
“Lost another soldier yesterday. #RipChrisDavo. Had many a good battle with this guy,” Slater said on his Instagram story.
The World Surf League also paid tribute, saying it was “saddened” to learn of Davidson’s death.
Davidson’s friend and fellow surfer Nathan Hedge told the Today Show in Australia that Davidson was “robbed too early.”
“Nobody wins. It’s just the worst thing ever,” an emotional Hedge said. “Not only has Chris been taken from us, the other person’s life is shattered and ruined as well. Nothing positive can come out of this. It’s the worst thing in the world. It’s got to stop. It’s not good enough. It’s just got to end.”
Hedge continued: “I will miss him hanging out with our daughters. He was just robbed too early.
“He had so much more life to give, enjoy and cherish. I will miss his laugh. I will miss his practical jokes, and I just miss his passion. He was always up for anything and I will miss his hugs.
“His motto was ‘Make it mean something. It’s our time!’ He had that passion in the water and in other areas of his life as well.”
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