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The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia
"Gypsy" Joe Harris
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
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Thanks to Matt Tegen for the record
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