di Erika Scafuro
Focusing on surfing legends, on professionals, on icons and on those who are still struggling to become one, means knowing not only their careers, but also investigating their personal history. And it is by doing this that we realize how many champions have become such even and above all despite the enormous difficulties that life has placed before them. One of these is the Australian Mick Fanning.
Native of Penrith, a town in the western suburbs of Sidney, Australia, Mick was a kid when his family moved to the coast and he began surfing following in the footsteps of his older brothers. Mick is the youngest of five brothers and his personal life will also be decisive for his career as a surfer, because the big challenges that life has placed before him have been met with courage and resilience. So let’s go over the highlights of the great Australian surfer, three-time World Champion – in 2007, 2009 and 2013 – who in 2018 decided to retire from full-time competitions.
Since when, still a child, Mick began to take part in races he has obtained great results and soon found himself being sponsored: his dream of becoming a professional surfer was becoming a reality. A dream Mick shared with his older brother Sean who was only 20 when he tragically dies in a car accident. This serious mourning has pushed Mick to realize with still more determination that dream and soon Mick found himself surfing alongside Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Rob Machado etc. Mick’s first year competing in Men’s Championship Tour was 1999. There will be many moments of glory, victories, successes of this boy, but unfortunately as many will be the moments of difficulty. In 2004 a serious knee injury caused him to stop another time, but this time too Mick treasured what had happened to him in order to grow. In 2015 another test: before the eyes of thousands of spectators, during the final race at J-Bay in South Africa, Mick is attacked by a great white shark; a shock with which the great Australian surfer had to come to terms, incredulous to have survived.
That year Fanning almost got his fourth world title, but on the eve of that final event another great tragic news awaited him: the death of his older brother. Mick’s personal story shows how good things and terrible things happen in life, but the attitude we show in facing challenges is all that makes us better people. And Mick Fanning is undoubtedly a great surfer, but also a great person.