Black Bear Tangles With the Wrong Ex-Boxer

Canadian survives with his fists and his knowledge from the boxing ring
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2016 9:51 AM CDT
Black Bear Tangles With the Wrong Ex-Boxer
In this Oct. 23, 2015, photo, a California black bear roams in Three Rivers, Calif.   (AP Photo/Brian Melley)

When a 61-year-old Canadian man startled a bear cub while walking his dog Sunday near Sudbury, the tiny "yelp" the baby bear made wasn't endearing. "I knew right away I was in trouble," Rick Nelson tells CBC News. "It's calling for mommy." Sure enough, the mama black bear emerged from the bush in attack mode, and Nelson, who didn't have a rock, stick, or any other possible weapon nearby, had to resort to what he knew best: boxing. His first swing at the 300-pound-plus beast hit it in the teeth, and the bear retaliated with scratches across Nelson's chest and face. Nelson, who the Guardian says is a former featherweight boxer and bear hunter, combined both skill sets to anticipate the bear's next move. "I knew it would swing first with its left, but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed," he tells the CBC.

And Nelson's second punch was spot-on, nailing the bear right in the snout. It was at that point the cub let out another sound and, either bored of the fight or frightened, started leaving the scene. As Nelson held his breath, the bloodied mother bear decided to follow her baby instead of bringing Nelson back to the mat. His wife, Sheryl, tells the Sudbury Star that when Nelson—who's since been nicknamed "Kung Fu Panda" by his co-workers—and the bear both retreated, "it was like two warriors backing away from the battle." Nelson, meanwhile, concedes, "I really lucked out there," adding that black bears really aren't that dangerous unless you mess with their cubs. The Ontario government concurs, noting on its site that the bears usually stay away from humans, per the BBC. (A Boy Scout leader fought off a black bear last year.)

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