Inspiring story of Mick Fanning’s coach
MICK Fanning's former "coach" will now "coach" Julian Wilson on the World Surf League tour - a tour Andy King should have been on himself had it not been for a coward punch 14 years ago.
The Gold Coaster was in the prime of his surf career when he was coward punched in Cronulla, rendering him completely deaf.
"I was out celebrating and someone was harassing my girlfriend, who is now my wife," he recalled.
"Unfortunately, I got beaten up by a group of them and basically took a punch I didn't see coming and my head hit the gutter.
"My career was over. I shattered both my cochleas, so all the equilibrium was gone and I was 100 per cent deaf.
After his accident, Fanning made King his right-hand man.
"People call me his coach but I can't really claim anything at all with Mick," he said.
"He gave me a role but really he taught me.
"He was an alpha male that moved us away from violence.
"Surfing is pretty territorial. The fact is it's really localised and territorial.
"I spent three weeks in the brain injuries unit and learned how to walk again."
That punch steered King's life in a totally new direction and a ride alongside Mick Fanning's rocket to international surfing fame.
King, then 27, had known Fanning since he was a teenager and had been a big brother figure to him.
"He taught us to be a man. You don't have to beat people up, you can be an alpha male through your performance and giving.
"Mick evolved our culture. Obviously he has so many achievements but I think that's one of the greatest things he's done."
Coolangatta pro surfer Dean "Dingo" Morrison called King "the best coach in the world", but King is coy about calling himself Fanning's "coach".
"He's been more of a mentor to me!" he insisted.
"(My duties) varied. I used to buy him time, so I'd map the conditions from sunrise to sunset, give him ideas on themes, give him an idea of what was getting scored.
"Sometimes I was security. Sometimes I was just a mate on the road that cares about him."
Now that Fanning has retired after 17 seasons, three world titles and 22 event wins, King has been snapped up by 29-year-old Julian Wilson.
Now 41, King's path has been different to the path he intended, but he said it had still been an amazing journey.
He credited his achievements largely to the Cochlear implants he received eight months after he lost his hearing in 2004 and now he wants to raise awareness for the other 3.5 million Aussies living with hearing impairment.
"I had an amazing doctor who gave me the implant and he gave me hope to get back in the water," he said.
"What it allows now and my interactions … without it I can't function.
"I have a huge amount of gratitude for that.
"You don't realise how incredible humans are until you're in a state of crisis.
"I've got a bionic ear. I didn't even know they existed and the fact that it's an Australian company makes me even more proud to be honest."