Hawaii surfer escapes shark attack by throwing punches

A 25-year-old Hawaii surfer says he's lucky to be alive after surviving a close encounter with a shark off Kauai.

Jeff Horton, a former boxer, told Fox News he was surfing Sunday morning with several others near Kilauea when he spotted a dark shape moving toward him in the water.

“I was surfing for about three hours and I was just looking around for a wave and I look down and see what I thought was a sting ray,” Horton said.

"It came up on me and I jerked my foot and kicked it a couple of times. It went for the bite and missed my leg."

Horton, 25, pulled his left leg out of the water and got on the surfboard, but was knocked off when the shark began to chomp on the board. He rolled onto the shark, grabbed a fin and started punching.

"I rolled to the top of the shark and punched it in the mouth and got one shot in the eye," Horton told Fox News. “I thought I was going to die unless I put up the best fight I ever had.”

The shark spit out the board and retreated when Horton's knuckled jammed into its eye. He then scrambled onto his board and paddled toward shore with another surfer.

"At that point I was pretty much in a full panic and started swimming for my life," he said. "I saw the shadow of its belly following me underneath.”

The shark briefly followed but did not attack again, he said.

After they reached shore, a tourist gave him $50 and told him to buy a bottle, The Garden Island reported. Horton's only injuries were scratches from the shark's rough skin.

Horton told Fox News he was grateful to be welcomed ashore by a group of people awaiting his safe return. "I’m lucky to be here today,” he said.

The 7-foot board, however, was left with a semi-circle imprint of the shark's jaws. Horton, who surfed again Monday at another beach, said he plans to put it up on his wall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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