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And the ball of public praise rolls on. After Mick Fanning punched a shark in the face (like a bo$$), his life would never be the same. It was a harrowing incident that lasted 2.857 seconds but came with a resounding mainstay in the public spotlight…and not just within the surf community. He had a spot on 60 Minutes (and donated his $75,000 check to a shark victim), his attack was callously parodied in a South African KFC commercial, he was the first male ever to be featured on Australian Elle magazine, and every news outlet from tabloids to Time had his name in their headlines.

Now nearly four months since the incident, the non-surf media outlets are still singing their praise. The latest comes from GQ Australia, where Fanning has been crowned the “Sportsman of the Year” in the annual Man of the Year awards. The 34-year-old Aussie was joined by his wife Karissa Dalton as he surprised socialite media by wearing a suit and tie – gasp! No boardies and flip flops?!?

“To tell you the truth, I have learned a lot about myself and how to deal with things,” Fanning said. “There’s been good and bad, so I guess it has been one of those years. It will be a good one to remember.”

No doubt has it been a crazy year for Mick. Aside from close encounters with the chompers of a Great White and the incessant jowls of the international media, he’s still fighting for his fourth World Title. Going into Hawaii, he holds the number one spot in the rankings. But Filipe Toledo is just a mere 200 points behind him with Adriano de Souza and Gabs Medina trailing not far either. Mick’s a fierce competitor, though, and a betting man wouldn’t be foolish to place his chips on him for the win. Wouldn’t that be the perfect cherry on top of a legendary year?

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