Frank Varey: Tyson Fury pays tribute to 16-year-old boxer who died after swimming in river as police warn about dangers of open water
Tyson Fury has paid tribute to a talented 16-year-old boxer who died after going swimming in Cheshire.
Frank Varey was reported missing at around 2.30pm on Thursday in the River Dee in Chester.
Extensive searches of the river took place throughout the afternoon and into the evening, with his body found shortly before 8pm.
On Fury’s Instagram stories, the heavyweight champion wrote: “RIP Frank. Was a future world champ. May God be with your family.”
Frank’s family have released a statement, where they also paid tribute to the teenager.
His parents, brothers and sister said: “We are devastated beyond words, Frank was a legend in the boxing world and in life. May our Young King live on forever.”
Warnings about the dangers of open water have been issued by charities and the police this week as temperatures soared around the UK.
England Boxing also paid tribute to Frank.
“England Boxing has been saddened to learn of the death of talented and popular England Talent Pathway boxer Frank Varey at the age of 16,” the association said.
“He was due to attend the Youth European Championships 2021 Selection Camp in August and had been a semi-finalist at the England Boxing National Junior Championships 2020 before it was cut short due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic
“England Boxing send heartfelt condolences to all Frank’s family and friends at this difficult time. May he rest in peace.”
Rhoose Boxing Club paid tribute in a Facebook post, saying: “It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to one of our England boxers, Frank Varey, who sadly passed away this afternoon 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.”
And Gethin Jenkins, the England Boxing CEO, 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.”
Cheshire Police said the family is 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.”
Local police are investigating the incident, with Detective Chief Inspector Tony Nicholson warning: “Even on days as hot as we have had recently, canals can still be very cold and cold water can cause cramps in even the strongest swimmers.
“Currents created by boats and water movements around locks and weirs can also be dangerous. There may also be items lurking beneath the surface that could cause injury.”
The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) said it was aware of 17 incidents of accidental loss of life in the water between 17 and 20 July, and urged swimmers to take care.
All of the incidents had occurred in England, apart from one in Northern Ireland.
RLSS UK charity director Lee Heard said: “Whilst we recognise how tempting it is to cool off in the UK’s beautiful waterways, they hide hazards that tragically take lives each year and we urge the public to use caution when entering the water, getting acclimatised to the water temperature before jumping in.
“The difference between the air temperature and water temperature can literally take your breath away; this is called cold water shock. It is silent, invisible and deadly.”
Despite rising temperatures this week, the weekend looks set to be cooler with a yellow warning for rain in place for parts of England.