South African boxing great and renowned trainer, Brian Mitchell, in a recent interview with Africa’s leading sport broadcaster Supersport, said Namibia’s legendary boxer Harry Simon remains one of the greatest boxers he has ever trained.
The 58-year old Mitchell, who in 1986 during his days as a formidable boxer won the coveted WBA and lineal junior lightweight title with a 10th-round knockout over Panamanian opponent Alfredo Layne and went on to defend the title a record 12 times and never lost a title fight in his career, trained Simon between 1996 and 2001.
Under the mentorship of Mitchell, the undefeated Simon went on to dominate the world by becoming a two-weight world champion after winning and successfully defending the WBO junior middleweight title between 1998 and 2001, before he stepped up in weight to capture the WBO middleweight title in 2002 – becoming Namibia’s first ever two-time world champion at the time.
Listing and reflecting on the careers of all the fighters he has ever trained during the interview, a sparkly-eyed Mitchell said Namibia’s boxing great Simon remains one of the greatest fighters he has ever trained and will continue to enjoy a special place in his heart.
“By far, Harry Simon is probably the greatest fighters I have ever trained and he remains undefeated. He became Namibia’s first ever world champion because they [Namibia] only has amateur boxing back then…I remember his fight against Winky Wright when he won the WBO light middleweight title in 1998, it was a very crazy fight because they first gave the decision to Winky but then later the fight supervisor came back and gave the win to Simon. It was crazy…” said Mitchell as he joyfully reminisced.
During the controversial Winky Wright fight, the bout had initially been ruled a draw, but then a “scoring error” favouring the Namibian was discovered and eventually saw Simon become Namibia’s first ever world champion. He went on to successfully defend the WBO light middleweight title four times.
Reacting to Mitchell’s heart-warming remarks, Simon said, “I’m truly blessed and grateful to have met him. It was an amazing experience working with a former world champion, he taught me valuable lessons that many professional boxers still don’t know about the sport and most importantly about life. He is truly a legend and a brother to me. I’m not saying this because I personally know him, I’m saying this because the man is truly a legend.”
The 47-year old Simon, who still holds the longest undefeated streak in boxing history at 24 years, also made history in 2018 when he fought together with his son, Harry Simon Jr, and they both won their fights, making it a first in Namibia for a father and son to appear together and to both win their respective bouts.
Mitchell, who was in 2009 inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, finished his career with 45 wins, one loss and three draws. His 12 successful defences of the junior lightweight title were only eclipsed by countryman Vuyanyi Bungu, who achieved a record 13 successful defences.