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Pro surfer Mick Fanning fends off shark attack during televised J-Bay Open

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Posted at 3:04 PM, Jul 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-19 17:04:23-04

The video footage and interview above is courtesy World Surf League via CNN. The second video shows the television broadcast version, including commentary. WARNING: The video below contains graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised. 

JEFFREYS BAY, SOUTH AFRICA -- A surfer was waiting to catch a winning wave at a competition in South Africa Sunday, but instead, he caught the attention of the most feared predator in the sea--narrowly escaping a brush with death.

Mick Fanning was just minutes away from the final heat in the J-Bay Open surf competition.

The championship surfer was sitting on his board, waiting for his set, just like he's done countless times in the past.

Video shot from shore appears to show two sharks circling Fanning.

He said he felt something behind him, and then, a strong pull from beneath.

"I was just sitting there,” Fanning said. “I was just about to like, just start moving, and then I felt something grab, like got stuck in my leg rope. And I like instantly just jumped like a Lion and it just kept coming at my board, and I was just was like kicking and screaming and, boy."

Reporter: "See some teeth? Did you get some teeth?"

Fanning: "I just saw fins. I didn't see the teeth. I was, I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming. I was like, 'ah!'"

Reporter: “Did you get a couple of punches in?"

Fanning: “I punched it in the back."

Fanning escaped with a severed leash, but no injuries.

Event organizers cleared the water, praised the quick action of the water safety team, and canceled the remainder of the event.