Blackpool 'future world champ' boxer Frank Varey dies aged 16 after drowning in river

Blackpool's "future world champion" boxer, Frank Varey, 16, has died after drowning in a Cheshire river.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:01 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 1:00 pm
Frank Varey, 16, who has died aged 16, had been a member of Sharpstyle ABC boxing gym in Blackpool. Pic credit: Andy Chubb

Varey, who had been a member of Sharpstyle ABC boxing gym in Blackpool was reported missing after swimming in the River Dee in Chester yesterday afternoon (Thursday, July 22).

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "Police searching for a missing teenage boy in Chester have found a body.

"The 16-year-old was reported missing at around 2.30pm on Thursday 22 July after he disappeared while swimming in the River Dee.

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Tributes have been made to the promising young boxer (left) who was ranked England's No. 1 and had won five national championships and six international titles. Pic credit: Andy Chubb

"Extensive searches have been taking place throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Search teams found a body in the river shortly before 8pm.

"Formal identification has not yet taken place but it is believed to be that of the missing boy.

"The teenager’s family have been informed and they are being supported by specially trained officers."

Superintendent Myra Ball added: "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."

The teenager and promising young boxer was reported missing after swimming in the River Dee in Chester yesterday afternoon (Thursday, July 22). Search teams found a body in the river shortly before 8pm. Pic credit: Andy Chubb

British boxing mourns the death of 'future world champ' Frank Varey

Tributes have poured in for the Sharpstyle boxer, who represented England at the European Junior Championships 2019 in Galati, Romania and won several National Championships titles.

In an Instagram post, Lancashire's own world champion boxer Tyson Fury paid tribute to the young star, saying: "RIP Frank. He was a future world champ. May God be with your family.”

England Boxing, the national governing body for amateur boxing, described Varey as an 'absolute bundle of life'.

England Boxing chief executive officer, 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.

"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 Euros. 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."

England Talent coach John Stubbs added: "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."

And 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."

British boxing clubs pay tribute to 16-year-old Frank Varey

Rhoose Boxing Club in South Wales said: "It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to one of our England boxers, Frank Varey, who sadly passed away this afternoon (Thursday, July 22) after he drowned in a Cheshire river.

"Frank used to come to the gym with his father every summer to spar the boys and gain experience. He was a very promising young boxer as he was England’s number one, as well as Britain’s and Europe’s number one as well.

"Frank will very much be in our thoughts and so will his family and friends. RIP Frank. We miss you."

Holy Trinity ABC in Belfast, Northern Ireland, tweeted: "We are all so saddened to hear the passing of the very talented Frank Varey of Sharpstyle boxing club.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Varey family and friends at this terrible time.

"RIP champ."

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