|The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia|
Born: in Philadelphia
Died: March 6, 1990 Philadelphia
Manager: Yank Durham
Career Record: 24-1 (8 kayos)
"Gypsy" Joe Harris, a top Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight contender of the late sixties, fought his entire career blind in his right eye. Harris fought in a style similar to Muhammad Ali -- his hands down at his sides, leaning back at awkward angles (which allowed him to use his good eye to see his opponent).
He first came to attention when he stopped fellow Philly rival Stanley "Kitten" Hayward. Harris followed that up with an easy decision win over Welterweight champ Curtis Cokes in a non-title fight. After that win, many observers felt Harris was a lock for a world title. The eccentric Harris was known to tell customers at the bar he tended that he was going "to be champ, and make big money."
As for the nickname: Harris was known to wear three or four sets of clothes a day, hence the nickname "Gypsy." Harris followed the Cokes win, with wins over Bobby Cassidy, tough Dick DiVeronica, and a faded Teddy Wright. He was then put in with the great Emile Griffith, who was thought to be on the slide, after three tough fights with Nino Benvenuti. Griffith had a lot left in him, though, and he took an easy decision from Harris, who clowned the whole fight, to the dismay of Philly fight fans.
Harris attempted to regroup with a November fight with top Welterweight contender Manny Gonzalez. The commission doctor noticing some inflammation in one of Harris' eyes, called Harris in for an eye exam. His secret out, Joe was forced to retire.
For the next five years Harris petitioned to get a license. He argued that promoter Herman Taylor, along with his manager Yank Durham, knew all along that he was blind in one eye, and that they would let him to continue fighting as long as he was winning. After giving up attempts to resume his career, Harris plunged into a life of alcoholism and heroin addiction.
Harris' hard living caught up with him in 1988, when he suffered three heart attacks. Harris sobered up, but it was to late, and he died shortly thereafter. For trivia buffs, Harris is the only non-heavyweight too ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, without ever winning a world title.
1964 Nov 6 Freddy Walker Worcester, MA KO 3 1965 Jan 25 Oscar Freeman Norfolk, VA W 4 Feb 8 Tank Hill Philadelphia W 6 Feb 25 Jose Meyers Philadelphia W 8 Mar 15 Johnny Huey Philadelphia KO 2 Mar 29 Royden Collins Philadelphia W 6 Apr 19 Jose Meyers Philadelphia KO 4 Aug 16 Ike Silk Philadelphia KO 2 Oct 29 Roydon Collins Philadelphia W 8 Dec 6 Jose Meyers Philadelphia KO 4 1966 Mar 7 C.L. Lewis Philadelphia W 6 Apr 4 David Ryan Philadelphia KO 4 May 23 Johnny Knight Philadelphia W 10 Jul 25 Joe Walcott Philadelphia W 8 Oct 10 Stanley "Kitten" Hayward Philadelphia KO 7 Nov 22 Jose Stable Philadelphia W 10 1967 Mar 6 Johnny Knight Philadelphia KO 6 Mar 31 Curtis Cokes New York W 10 May 15 Teddy Wright Philadelphia W 10 May 19 Benny Bowser Dallas W 10 Aug 31 Miguel Barrette Philadelphia W 10 Oct 30 Bobby Cassidy Philadelphia W 10 Dec 11 Miguel Barreto Philadelphia W 10 1968 Feb 19 Dick DiVeronica Philadelphia W 10 Aug 6 Emile Griffith Philadelphia L 12 Nov Manuel Gonzalez Philadelphia Sch-x