Tyson Fury leads tributes to drowned 'future world champ' teen boxer

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Tyson Fury during the post-fight press conference at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. (Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tyson Fury has led the tributes to 16-year-old Frank Varey who drowned on Thursday (Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

Heavyweight champion boxer Tyson Fury has led tributes to a teenager who drowned in the River Dee on Thursday.

Frank Varey, 16, represented England at the European Junior Boxing Championships in 2019.

He died while swimming in the river in Handbridge, just south of Chester, on Thursday.

A huge search operation was launched after Varey went missing and a body was found at around 11pm Thursday night. 

A spokesperson for Cheshire Coroner's Court confirmed a file relating to to the young sports star's death had been passed to the coroner. Tributes have since poured in for Varey.

A huge search operation was launched after the teenager went missing in the River Dee (reach)
A huge search operation was launched after the teenager went missing in the River Dee. (Reach)

Fury, a two-time world heavyweight champion, having held the WBC and The Ring magazine titles since defeating Deontay Wilder in 2020, said: “RIP Frank. Was a future world champ.”

Fury and Wilder were due a rematch on Saturday but the fight has been postponed due to COVID.

England Boxing said Varey, originally from Blackpool, had won several National Championships titles.

England Talent coach John Stubbs said: “Frank was a larger than life character.

"I’ve never met anyone that could lose a hotel key 27 times in the first two days of the trip, or anyone with the pre-bout ritual he had.

“No boy should lose their life at 16. This is a sad day for the boxing community and my thoughts are with big Frank and the family.” 

Tributes have poured in for Frank Varey who drowned in the River Dee on Thursday (reach)
Tributes have poured in for Frank Varey who drowned in the River Dee. (Reach)

Fellow England Talent coach Shiney Singh added: “Absolutely heartbroken even writing this. The absolute bundle of life Frank Varey taken from us.

"Only yesterday he was in the gym looking a million dollars and there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to smash the Euro selections. He was the life of the gym and lit up the room.

“There was no doubt in my mind he was going to do great things and in such a small amount of time he made made such a big impact and will be greatly missed.”

He added: "He was an unbelievably talented boxer who I believe would’ve gone on to become a future superstar." 

Police have cordoned off the area in Handbridge, just south of Chester (reach)
Police have cordoned off the area in Handbridge, just south of Chester. (Reach)

Close friend, Annalise Evans said: "He was one of my best friends for years I loved him like my own family. He definitely broke many hearts and he was one in a million. 

"There will never be another Frank Varey, he was one of a kind."

England Boxing CEO Gethin Jenkins said: “England Boxing has been devastated to hear the news of Frank’s death, with our coaches, in particular, having got to know him very well during his boxing development.

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“He was a very talented boxer, multiple National Champion and a member of our England set-up and Talent Pathway, proudly representing his country in the 2019 European Junior Championships, held in Romania.

"Although young, he had clearly demonstrated much promise.

“He was also a very popular character with his fellow boxers and those who coached him, bringing a sense of fun to everything he did. He will leave a huge gap in people’s lives.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this time.” 

Cheshire Police said the teenager's family have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers.

Superintendent Myra Ball said: “Sadly this is the second river death that we have seen this week in the county. "This appears to be another tragic accident and our thoughts are with the boy’s family at this very difficult time.”

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