A lot of boxers can say they faced impressive opponents in the ring, but how many can say they got in a fist fight with a bear and came out on top? A 61-year-old man from Sudbury, Ontario, told news outlets that he came across an estimated 300-pound black bear while dog-walking last weekend. Rick Nelson, described as a former featherweight boxer, was taking a break on a log in the Panache region when he saw a bear cub appear out of the bushes. For a moment, the cub looked inquisitively at Nelson and his 5-year-old mongrel Maggie. Then the cub started calling for its mother.
“I knew right away I was in trouble,” Nelson told the CBC. “The mother was coming full speed. All you could hear was the bush crashing.”
Nelson had hunted bears before, so he knew he was in a very bad situation. With a cliff behind him and his dog tied up, the former boxer decided to put up his fists and stare down the sow. This tactic is usually recommended against black bears, which unlike their larger brown cousins, are less willing to fight. However, against a sow protecting her cub, nothing is predictable.
“This thing didn’t stop. It didn’t stomp. It didn’t snort. It just came straight at me,” Nelson described to the National Post. “When it stood up and took its first swing with its left paw, it hooked my front shoulder, and as I swung around I went to hit it but I missed because it hit me so hard. I hit it in the lip and teeth, which actually did a lot of damage to my knuckle. And it went down.”
Nelson said he was originally aiming for the bear’s snout. Surprisingly, he managed to knock the large animal down with a punch to the teeth instead. Bears are a lot more resilient than your average boxer, however, and the animal came straight back up for a second round. This time Nelson caught the bear with uppercut right on the nose. It was a perfect shot that sent the animal reeling.
Suddenly, the bear decided it was no longer in the mood to fight and ran off with its cub. Nelson wrote off the victory as luck, although he did suffer a few scratches and bruises from the encounter. Thankfully, most of his injuries were light and superficial—but not something you would see in a boxing ring.
Nelson added that he held no grudge against the bear and that it was just doing what came to it naturally. Black bear attacks are rare, but chances of getting on the wrong side of one increase when cubs are involved.
“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,” he later told the CBC.
Walking dogs also increases your chances of being attacked by a bear. Bears naturally enter into a fight or flight response when they encounter dogs, and sows with cubs often choose to fight.
Image is public domain