Greg Griffin never thought he would spend Christmas in an intensive care unit as the latest victim of Sydney's king-hit culture.
The 38-year-old salon owner was walking home to Surry Hills after a 12-hour shift on Thursday last week when he was allegedly punched to the ground by a stranger in Oxford Street.
"It's a total blank. I remember waking up going, 'What on earth am I doing here?' and the nurses told me I had my head beaten in and I was lucky to be alive," he said.
After five days in a scared and confused state, Mr Griffin's condition finally improved on Christmas Eve with close friends by his bedside in St Vincent's Hospital.
They feared the worst on Saturday as doctors contemplated placing him in an induced coma because of the intense bleeding on his brain.
"We kept reading about these assaults happening but you never think it'll happen to someone you know," said Emer Ryan, a colleague from the John Azzi salon in Manly.
"The hospital called us on Friday morning to tell us what had happened and we just couldn't believe it was Greg. We had to ask them if they had the right person."
It is a scenario Sydneysiders can expect to become more common, with doctors at St Vincent's warning the city's king-hit culture was reaching epidemic proportions.
Emergency department director Gordian Fulde said the department received at least four or five patients a night who had been punched in the head for no apparent reason.
Hospital spokesman David Faktor said the victims stood out because they were almost all young men with bandages over their head saying "no flap", signifying that part of their skull had been removed to relieve pressure.
He said they often had several in a row.