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Family left devastated after Belfast man Mark Wright's body found

Tributes paid to Belfast boxer 'who had the talent to turn professional'

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Tragedy: Mark Wright who went missing last Thursday

Tragedy: Mark Wright who went missing last Thursday

A 24-year-old man who was found dead after he went missing last week was a talented boxer who could have forged a professional career in the sport, a friend has said.

Tributes have been paid to 24-year-old Mark Wright after his body was found in Newtownabbey.

Family and friends of Mr Wright have been left devastated after the grim discovery in the Glenview Drive area.

Mr Wright, who was autistic and considered vulnerable, was last seen on the Holywood Road in east Belfast last Thursday morning.

Last night, a friend of Mr Wright said: "Everyone who knew Mark is absolutely devastated by this news, it's so upsetting.

"Mark was a great boxer, he boxed out of the City of Belfast boxing club, and was held in very high regard by everyone.

"Inside the ring, he was such a crafted boxer, he went on a trip to England to fight and the coaches from the opposite team said they would love to get their hands on him as they could have turned him pro, he really was that good.

"Outside of the ring, however, he was genuinely one of the nicest people you could meet, he was so quiet and lovely and was a very, very polite and well-mannered guy.

"It's fair to say a lot of hearts are broken today.

"There are many in the boxing fraternity who regard this as a massive blow and it's such tragic news for his family."

A post mortem is due to be carried out to establish the cause of death.

However, it is understood to have been a tragic accident which happened after Mr Wright went missing.

Police issued a number of appeals for information over the weekend while his sister, Ashlee Johnston, also asked the public to assist in searches for her brother.

The family issued a statement yesterday which said: "We as a family want to thank everyone who has helped in the search for Mark, unfortunately the outcome wasn't what we wanted and he was found today.

"We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken and can't thank you all enough for your help."

Meanwhile, a post on the City of Belfast Boxing Academy Facebook page said: "Sadly the club has lost more than a past member and friend to many.

"Mark Wright was hard-working, always polite, always humble and a rising star of the club.

"Mark you will forever be in our hearts. Our deepest sympathies go to his whole family and friends. Always in our hearts Mark."

Comments left below expressed shock at his death, with a fellow member stating: "God this is so sad… he was a lovely young guy… condolences to all."

Another post read: "The hardest trainer and most respectful student I've met. Mark has left a lasting impression on all of us and will be very sadly missed.".

He was also described as "a lovely lad and our kids all looked up to him when they were there".

Belfast Telegraph