Tony Bellew has admitted his jungle adventure started with sadness after his "wonderful" nan died just 24 hours after he signed his I'm A Celebrity contract.

The 40-year-old ex-boxing champ, who will go into the camp as one of two late entries, paid tribute to "second mum", Rose, who was looking forward to watching him compete on the show. He said he only committed to flying out to Australia once he confirmed he could be home in time for her funeral, MirrorOnline reports.

Tony said: "I signed the day before she passed away, so there was no going back then. If I sign something, I honour my agreement.

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"In an ideal world I would have left it but I had signed. I was coming, so I am here.

"But I am going back to bury her on the 15th. I was going to renegade if I couldn't move the burial date. I can bury her now when I get back."

Paying tribute to Rose, 97, he described her as "the boss of the house" on social media, he added: "She was in a home. And she told my mum 'I'll be able to watch that [I'm A Celeb] every night'.

"So yeah, it is what it is. She'll be watching, you know, from wherever she is and whatever she's doing. She was a diamond of an old lady. She was wonderful."

He continued: "I come from a single parent household, my dad left when I was 10. So when you come from where I come from, your Nan helps around a lot because your mother goes to work.

"So your nan is your second mum. She was a lovely, lovely woman, and she had the heart of gold, so she'll be missed by all of us. Me and my brothers and my mother and my dad by the way as well."

Laid back Tony, a former cruiserweight world champion who also twice defeated David Haye, said he signed up for the show mainly to give his kids some memories and fun as they normally watch the series at home in Liverpool, while his wife Rachael also fancied a trip to Australia with their three sons.

He said: "They'll be here having an absolute scream while I'm sitting there starving."

Diehard Everton fan Tony does not class himself as a celebrity and despite his past in the ring, has no plans for a big entrance or for bust ups when he arrives in camp this week.

He said: "I'm sure I'll just be another one of the characters. I get along with anyone, I don't have any problems, any issues. I'm pretty easy going.

"My wife says to me, I'm that laid back if I was any more laid back I would be asleep. I was always calm fighting and I love fighting. It's the best thing. It was the only thing I'm good at. So yeah, nothing fazes me. Nothing bothers me.

"Life was much easier when I could punch people in the face and get paid. Life's a lot more difficult now that I'm out of that game, and I haven't hit someone in the face since, I can't remember who I fought [in the ring], he obviously didn't hit me very hard.

"The last time I took or gave a punch would have been that night [fighting Oleksandr Usyk in 2018] and I have no intentions of giving one or taking one anytime soon."

Tony has criticised Nigel Farage on social media in the past, describing him as an "absolute maniac" for his opinion on immigration in 2022. But he insisted he would give him the benefit of the doubt in camp whilst also giving current politicians a verbal jab.

On Farage, Tony added: "He's just another human being exactly the same as myself. I don't know him. So, like the other 11 people in there, I'll get to know him and I'm sure we'll go from there.

"So he's another human. He's just another person. He hasn't done anything to me personally. So yeah, you just find a way to get along with people.

"You're going into a camp, you're basically all living in each other's pockets. Get on with each other. I don't see why you wouldn't want it and why you wouldn't want to make it a nice experience and a pleasant experience for anyone. So yeah.

"I haven't got a clue about politics. And nor do I want to have a clue about politics. People who do have a clue about politics look like they haven't got a clue what to do.

"So I'm just happy go lucky. I'm from a different world to these people. And I don't actually class myself as a celebrity. I'm just someone who was good at punching people in the face."

Despite being a hard man of the ring, Tony insisted he had lots of fears going into camp.

He said: "There's not much that I'm not scared of to be honest. You wouldn't think that but that's the truth. I'm sure it'll work itself out. I mean, who likes rats? Who likes mice? Who likes snakes? Who likes cockroaches? No one.

"If you show me someone who does like those things, I'll show you a weirdo. It should be a fascinating experience to say the least."

*I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! continues on ITV on Thursday at 9pm

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