A former featherweight boxer from Sudbury, Ontario has walked away with only scratches after a fist fight with a 300lb black bear in Canada. Rick Nelson, 61, punched the bear after coming face to face with its baby cub while walking his dog on Sunday (3 July) and knew straight away that the mother was coming for him.
Nelson said he sat down on a log when the bear cub poked its head out of a nearby shrub and let out a yelp. He explained that this was when he knew the mother bear was coming for him and that he had only seconds to prepare.
Speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Nelson said: "I knew right away I was in trouble. It's call for mommy. The mother bear was coming full speed. All you could hear was the bush crashing."
Nelson said that he was soon face to face with the bear, who was already on her hind legs. He swung at the bear the first time, missed and hit its teeth, prompting the bear to swing back and scratch Nelson across the chest and face.
Using his boxing experience, as well as a knowledge of bears from his hunting days, Nelson said he knew the bear would swing first with its left paw but would come with its right "because most bears are right-handed".
He said: "I had the perfect shot to take. I did an underhand and hit it right in the snout. You want to make sure if you punch a bear that you're hitting it straight in its snout. That's really the only thing you have on a bear that will really startle it."
Nelson said the cub squealed again and began to move away. This was his "moment of truth", he said, when the bear would either follow her cub or go after him. He said that when she turned around to look at him, he was certain she was going to attack.
"But it just turned around and walked away like nothing ever happened and followed the cub," Nelson said. "So I really lucked out there."
According to Nelson, the bear was snorting blood after he punched it. He said he was really glad both he and the bear walked away from the fist fight.
According to Canada's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, black bear attacks are very rare and most want to avoid humans. A spokesperson said that they had received no reports of bear attacks on people this year and that bears are usually only attracted by food.
Despite his experience, Nelson urged people not to be afraid of black bears. He said: "Black bears really aren't dangerous unless you have a cub involved. So sometimes black bears get a really bad rap. Probably they're more afraid of you and [me], than we are of them."