Boxing Snippets

Harry Simon MD 12 Winky Wright – 22 August 1998

 Harry “The terminator” Simon from Walvis Bay, Namibia, had a squeaky clean 16-0 record with 14 knockouts when he stepped into the ring to challenge American, Ronald “Winky” Wright, for the WBO world junior middleweight title at the Carousel Casino but the champion was vastly more experienced at 38-1. Simon was strong as an ox, could hit and had an exciting, swarming style but there was no-one on his record who suggested he had the beating of the seasoned champion.

After failing in his first bid for a world title in 1994, losing a close decision to WBA champion, Julio Cesar Vasquez in France, Wright made the second time count, winning a decision over Bronco McKart two years later for the WBO title. A tricky southpaw who always struggled to get the big names to fight him, Wright went on the road, making three successful defenses of his title in England before coming to South Africa to fight Simon.

Simon burned rubber, rushing out of his corner to start the first round. He got stuck into Wright, showing the cagey champion no respect. He set a high tempo, banging his right through the high guard of Wright and going around it with the left hook. The champion was content to weather the storm, responding with the odd body shot here and there, Simon answering in kind. The second round saw Simon sneaking rights, uppercuts and hooks through the tight guard of Wright, which elicited chants of “Harry! Harry!” from the crowd, many who have travelled from Namibia to support their man.

Simon kept the pressure on throughout the first four rounds. In the beginning of the fifth he drove Wright into the ropes with a two-fisted attack but towards the end of the round, Wright started to find his distance, landing some long punches of his own.

The champion clawed his way back into the fight in the middle rounds, dominating the center of the ring, boxing on his toes while Simon started fighting in spurts.

After his trainer, long reigning former world champion, Brian Mitchell, told him that the fight was “too close,” Simon came roaring back in the ninth to swing the fight back his way, wobbling Wright with a clubbing right and then snapping his head back with a series of uppercuts. Now it was Wright fighting in spurts and getting on his bicycle while Simon was the aggressor. Simon let it all hang out in the last round and both fighters raised their hands after the final bell of what was an epic fight between contrasting styles with lots of momentum shifts.

The result was erroneously announced as a draw with Wright retaining his title, two judges scoring it even with the third giving it to Simon. Closer examination of the cards revealed that judge Julie Lederman’s card had wrongly been tallied as 114-114 when, in fact, she scored it 115-113 for Simon. Simon had to be brought back to the ring to hear that he won a majority decision and was Namibia’s first world champion.

It was also the first world champion for Brian Mitchell as a trainer.

As years went by, Simon’s victory started looking better and better because Winky Wright’s career was far from over. In fact, it had just begun. He went on to become the unified world junior middleweight champion, capturing the WBA, WBC and IBF belts. Along the way, he also recorded wins over great fighters like Shane Mosley, Felix Triniad and Ike Quartey and most considered him very unlucky not to get the decision against Jermain Taylor in a bid for the world middleweight title when the fight was declared a draw.

He retired in 2012 and was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2018.

Harry Simon made four successful defenses of his world title in the UK and Canada and then moved up to middleweight where he captured the interim WBO world middleweight title by outpointing former WBC champion, Hacine Cherifi, in Puerto Rico. He then went to Denmark and beat undefeated Armand Krajnc for the full title in 2002.

After that, his life went off the rails. He was involved in two high speed car crashes, the second one in 2002 seriously injuring him and killing the occupants in the other car. He was sentenced to two years in jail for culpable homicide which he began serving in 2007 after losing the appeal. He was released in 2009 and carried on fighting sporadically until 2018 into his forties.

He was never beaten in the ring and remains a trailblazer who paved the way for other Namibian world champions like Paulus Moses, Paulus Ambunda and Julius Indongo.

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