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David Haye back in UK after stunning victory

David Haye has returned to Britain after defeating the "Beast from the East", and admitted: "I can't wear my belt - it's too big."

The 29-year-old Londoner saw off the colossal Nikolai Valuev - despite an 11-inch height gap and seven stone weight difference - to become Britain's first world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis' retirement from the ring in 2003.

Arriving back from Germany at Stansted Airport, near Chelmsford, Essex, to a rapturous reception from more than 100 fans on Sunday night, he said it the reality of becoming world champion had "only just hit me".

Haye, who sported a badly disfigured hand, said he was unable to wear his belt because it was being resized to fit him. Speaking of his injury, he said: "It was like hitting bricks but it was a small price for being heavyweight champion of the world.

He said his sudden stardom felt "weird", adding: "I was expecting about 10 or 12 of my close mates here but this is strange."

Haye, whose wife Natasha was ushered through earlier, arrived at the airport with an entourage of more than 20 staff.

He greeted a young girl who was brandishing a banner inscribed with: "World Champion David Haye."

Haye added: "I am looking forward to relaxing with my family now and getting away for a bit."

Politicians earlier lined up to congratulate the sportsman after his victory. Prime Minister Gordon Brown acclaimed the new champion, saying: "Congratulations to David Haye for his superb, courageous and determined performance in Germany to win the WBA Heavyweight crown - Britain's first heavyweight champion for six years," he said.

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey, where Haye is from, also added his congratulations. He said: "We sent David to Germany with our wishes and hopes, but it was against all the odds that David has beaten Goliath."

Belfast Telegraph


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