Boxing: Former British champion Mason dies in accident

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The Independent Online

Former British boxing champion Gary Mason has died in a cycling accident.

Mason was on his bike in Wallington, south London, on Thursday morning when he was involved in a collision with a van. The 48-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Metropolitan Police said the van driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving. The 43-year-old, who was driving a white Vauxhall, had stopped at the scene. He was taken to a south London police station and bailed pending further inquiries.

A police spokesman said: "Officers were alerted at about 6.15am yesterday to a van in collision with a bicycle on Sandy Lane South, near the junction with Woodcote Road, Wallington. The cyclist, aged 48 years, was pronounced dead at the scene."

Jamaican-born Mason, who grew up in south London where his father was a carpenter, was known as a tough, hard-hitting fighter with a strong chin. He fought 38 professional bouts between 1984 and 1994, losing only one. That defeat came in his most famous fight, when he took on an up-and-coming Lennox Lewis in a defence of his British title and challenge for Lewis's European belt at a packed Wembley Arena in 1991.

Mason was regarded as a slight favourite against the future undisputed world champion but an existing eye injury did not help his cause against the sharp, accurate Lewis, and he was stopped in the seventh round.

"It's a terrible shock. He was a very good champion in the era when we had Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis," British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith said of Mason's death. "He was a huge puncher and a very nice man."

Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins also paid tribute to Mason, describing him on Twitter as an "inspiration". After retiring, Mason played three matches for rugby league side London Broncos, scoring a try in his first game, and appeared in television shows including Gladiators.