Ode to Namibia’s most successful athlete … The one and only, Harry ‘The Terminator’ Simon
Cometh the hour, cometh the man - to be precise, it’s now almost twenty years down the line since that historical night when the hard-punching Harry Simon was deservedly crowned WBO light middleweight world champion, Amazingly, the brother still boasts an impeccable squeaky-clean résumé since that memorable evening that was to change the mindset of many Namibians. And although there was controversy upon completion of the bloodied 12 rounds of blood, sweat and tears that saw the ring announcer make a mistake by declaring the clearly beaten Wright the winner – pandemonium broke out freely when the decision was reversed, giving the Namibian the nod. In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, detailing the life journeys of retired Namibian athletes, New Era Sport unzips the untold boxing tale of the legendary Harry ‘The Terminator’ Simon without pulling any punches. Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa Windhoek-History will reveal that Namibia’s undisputed professional boxer, one Harry Simon, aka ‘The Terminator’, was amongst the first local athletes to be crowned world champion after the legendary Frank Fredericks. Going into the much publicised world title bout as an unknown raw boxer, Simon beat the hell out of reigning champion Ronald ‘Winky” Wright at the packed to rafters Emperors Palace, near Johannesburg in 1998. What made the occasion special was the ringside presence of the sports-crazy incumbent Namibian head of state Dr Hage Geingob, at the time the country’s first appointed prime minister. The orthodox boxer, who hails from Namibia’s main harbour town Walvis Bay, was a man possessed like a wounded tiger and took the fight to his much-fancied opponent from the onset. Born Hermann Simon in Walvis Bay on 21 October 1972, growing up in the Kuisebmond residential area where only the toughest survived, young Harry learned the tricks of how to defend himself at quite an early age. And whereas a significant chunk of his close buddies would regularly engage in chasing an inflated piece of leather (playing football) Harry would hone his boxing skills in fiercely contested exchanges of bare-fist street battles for location supremacy, where he always emerged unscathed. However, it was not until he resurfaced at Namibia’s leading diamond mining town Oranjemund that the baby-faced Harry eventually rose to prominence. He boasts a remarkable unbeaten record of 30 wins from the same number of fights in the paid ranks with 22 of those bouts finishing within the distance (knockouts). Not even a career-threatening motor vehicle accident could halt his progress as a salted fighter. After an absence of almost four years recovering from a catastrophic car accident – Simon returned to the boxing arena and continued from where he left off. No other athlete in the history of Namibian sport, across all sporting codes, comes anywhere near The Terminator’s undeniable achievements. Simon’s rise to stardom got off with a gold medal during Namibia’s maiden appearance at the quadrennial All Africa Multi Sports Games in Cairo, Egypt in 1991 where he swept his opponents aside in the welterweight division. In 2001, Simon claimed the interim WBO middleweight fight against Hacine Cherifi before claiming the scalp of Armand Krajnc the following year to clinch the title. Sadly, Simon was involved in a serious car crash and subsequently lost the title, as he was unable to defend it as a result of multiple injuries to his body sustained during the fatal car accident. The Namibian was later stripped of the belt after he was found guilty of “culpable homicide” and sentenced to prison in 2007 before he was released two years later in 2009. In 2013, Simon won the vacant IBF international light heavyweight title against Geard Ajetovi and went on to defend it successfully against the same opponent in 2014. As an amateur, Simon represented his native land as a welterweight novice at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He boasts an impressive overall amateur record of 121-9. Simon turned pro in 1994 - winning the WBO light middleweight title four years later in 1998 by defeating Ronald “Winky” Wright hands down in a live televised fight where no quarter was asked nor given. The bout had initially been ruled a draw, but then a “scoring error” was quickly discovered, favouring the Namibian. The newly crowned Namibian sports hero successfully defended his title four times in succession against Kevin Lueshing, Enrique Areco, Rodney Jones and Wayne Alexander. Simon later claimed the WBO middleweight title against Sweden’s Armand Krajnc in a 12-round unanimous decision. As fate would have it, Namibia’s boxing blue-eyed boy was sadly involved in a horrific car accident sustaining serious injuries that prevented him from defending his title, resulting in the unfortunate stripping of his treasured belt without throwing a single punch. Simon returned to the boxing ring in March 2007, winning an eight-round decision against the clearly out-of-sorts Stephen Nzuemb, his first fight on home soil since becoming a world champion. His next casualty was Rashid Mutumla from Tanzania whom he easily saw off via a knockout on 2 December 2010. Following his release from custody in 2009, Simon launched a comeback campaign and went on to record several low-key victories against journeyman opposition. In his most recent outing in June 2012, the hard-punching Simon, a knockout specialist, stopped another journeyman Ruben Groenewald at 1:23 of the first round after sending his opponent twice to the canvas in a one-sided contest. Despite his advanced age, the yet to be defeated adorable Namibian boxer is still harbouring ambitions of reclaiming his status as the undisputed king of the ring. Simon is currently training in the United States of America (USA) for a non-title fight against a yet to be named opponent in his bid to move closer to a bite for a world title fight in due course.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-23 10:35:00 8 months ago