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61-Year-Old Former Boxer Has A Run In With A Black Bear

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Tom Hale

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Menno Schaefer/Shutterstock

Rick Nelson is a very lucky man. Either that, or he should have never given up boxing.

The 61-year-old from Ontario, Canada, managed to escape a fight with a 145-kilogram (320 pounds) black bear with just a few scratches. His story sounds like a scene from The Revenant, but unlike DiCaprio, Nelson had years of boxing classes behind him.

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The close-call occurred on Sunday, June 3, when he was out for an afternoon walk with his dog. Nelson was taking a quick break on a log when a bear cub poked its head out of the shrub and let out a yelp.

“I knew right away I was in trouble," he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). "It’s calling for mommy."

Unfortunately, he was right. The cub’s mother suddenly came crashing out of the bushes and stood on its hind legs. Nelson got up from his seat in a panic and looked around for a stick or rock to fend off the angry bear. With nothing to grab, he was forced to take a swing with his fists when he realized there was no other option.

“The mother was coming full speed. And it came and it meant business,” he said. "I knew it would swing first with its left but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed."

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They both exchanged blows, with Nelson receiving several slashes across his shoulder and face and the bear enduring a “perfect underhand” hit to the snout.

“Believe me, when you’ve got adrenaline pumping, you can hit. Even at 61 with grey hair, you can still hit hard,” he said.

But as the make-or-break moment came, Nelson said the cub then let out another yelp and started to walk away from the scuffle. In a stroke of luck, this prompted the mother to return to all-fours and follow the cub, leaving Nelson in peace. He managed to escape with just two cuts across his left shoulder and a gash across his cheek. The black bear left with just a bloodied nose.

In comparison to their grizzly cousins, black bears are notably less aggressive and tend to avoid human contact. That said, they will still attack humans. Last year, CBC reported there were 92 black bear attacks over the course of three years in North America. The majority of these were caused by people walking dogs without leashes in rural areas. 

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Reflecting on his experience, Nelson concluded: “I really lucked out there... I'm really glad that the bear walked away. And I'm really glad I did too."

[H/T: The Guardian]


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