9/04/09

Het Harry Simon berou oor die tragedie?

Die Namibiese bokssensasie van die jare negentig, Harry Simon, het gister na twee jaar agter tralies steeds as onoorwonne voormalige wêreldkampioen die stof van die Walvisbaai tronk afgeskud. Simon het as vry man deur die nou poorte van die tronk gestap skaars twee weke nadat die Motorvoertuigongelukfonds (MVAF) bykans N$24 miljoen moes opdok vir die slagoffers van die ongeluk wat hom agter tralies laat beland het. Simon se vrylating gisteroggend was straks een van sy enkele grootste lewensoomblikke sedert sy wêreldbokskroon in 1998. En die bokswêreld kan vanjaar al geskud word met ’n aankondiging dat die “Nuwe Terminator” deur die toue gaan klim. Simon se stormagtige boksloopbaan, onoorwonne in die kryt, was twee jaar gelede aan skerwe toe hy skuldig bevind is aan nalatige en roekelose bestuur en manslag nadat sy luukse Mercedes Benz in ’n gruongeluk betrokke was. Die hof het bevind Simon was agter die stuur toe sy weeldewa by die afdraai na Langstrand tussen Walvisbaai en Swakopmund teen die bakkie van ’n groep besoekende Belgiërs gebots het. Drie van die insittendes is dood en verskeie ander ernstig beseer in die padslagting van 21 November 2002. Roerende tonele het gisteroggend op Walvisbaai afgespeel toe die tronkdeure vir Simon oopgeswaai het. Die bokser, uitgevat in ’n netjiese, blink pak en sonbril, is deur vriende, familie en ondersteuners soos ’n held ingewag. ’n Bekende kleremaker van die kus het gesorg dat Simon in sy kraakvars snyerspak vrygelaat word. Simon self was maar stillerig midde al die omhelsings, maar duidelik selfversekerd en doelgerig om nie weer die smal paadjie te verlaat nie. Sy jarelange bestuurder, Ellison Hijarunguru, het namens Simon op ’n nuuskonferensie net na sy vrylating gesê sy bokser het in die tronk nie net sy hart teenoor sy Skepper uitgestort nie, maar het ook in ’n selfversekerde, beheerste en geestelik ryker mens verander. Die bewering is dat Simon in die tronk soos waarskynlik selde in sy loopbaan geoefen het en dat hy tans met ’n besonder soepel, gespierde liggaam spog. Simon het gesê hy gaan die volgende paar maande gebruik vir gehaltetyd saam met sy kinders en sy verloofde, asook vriende. Hy het ook die gulheid van Namibiërs geloof wat in twee jaar nooit moed verloor het met hom nie. Hijarunguru het gesê: “Simon se gewildheid blyk uit die feit dat hy soms meer as 200 besoekers per maand ontvang het.” Hijarunguru sê sy bokser is in ’n puik fisiese en geestelike toestand. “As Harry nou op die skaal moet klim, sal almal die bewyse hiervan kan sien. Harry het geleer dat elke mens foute in die lewe maak. Dit het hom geleer om te vergewe en aan te gaan. Ons sal nou met promoters en vegknopers begin praat,” het Lucky Shipanga, bekende sokkerafrigter en ’n goeie vriend, gesê. Hijarunguru het beloof dat Simon nog voor die einde van die jaar na die kryt kan terugkeer. ’n Amptelike verklaring oor Simon se toekoms en sy berou oor die ongeluk word glo binnekort verwag. Die oudkampioen uit die agterstrate van Walvisbaai het dit duidelik gestel dat hy in die tronk gegroei het tot ’n man met ’n diepe berou oor die tragedie en sy roekelose leefstyl. Sy wilde en spandabelrige lewe is glo vir goed verby. Simon wil dit beklemtoon deur eerstens ’n waardige pa vir sy kinders te wees en daarna deur die toue klim om aan die wêreld te wys die tronklewe het hom nie van sy gevreesde uitklopregter ontneem nie.

Harry Simon released

Harry Simon – the undefeated three time World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Light Middleweight champion - walked to freedom through the gates of the Walvis Bay Prison Wednesday after serving the most part of a two-year jail sentence for culpable homicide. “At last” were the first words uttered by Simon as he passed through the gates of the Walvis Bay Prison and stepped back to freedom after completing his two year prison sentence. “I have paid my dues, but now I’m back I want to focus all my attention on my boxing career, and I need all the support I can get,” he said, just minutes after walking out of the high walls of Walvis Bay Prison. The grey pin striped suit, starched white shirt and matching shoes were a far cry from the jail outfit he had become accustomed to for the past 21 months. Waiting for Simon was a party of friends and family, as well as a group young up and coming boxers, his manager Ellison Hijarunguru, and two of his closest friends Lucky Shipanga and Colin April.Looking overwhelmed by the commotion that confronted him with flashing cameras and jubilant greetings, Simon took it in his stride, still not believing he was a free man. He was reserved, yet fully charged for what lies ahead.During a press conference organised at a local hotel, Simon said he first wanted to spend time with his children and take it day by day before he could say when he would be back in the ring. He said that prison had made him a stronger and better man, and he learnt how to be patient and disciplined.With big plans in the pipeline, and a fight still on the cards for this year, it seems the Harry Simon phenomenon will continue. Harry pointed out that he had had a lot of time to reflect on his life during his term in prison. He was released on a Presidential reprieve three months before the completion of his full sentence. According to Senior Superintendent Jerry Moses of the Walvis Bay Prison, where the boxing champ served his sentence, “Harry was well disciplined and gave his full cooperation up until the last minute. We cannot complain about his behaviour in prison - he was a role model.” Moses explained that Simon spent much of his time behind bars concentrating on rigorous training, hence his fit appearance upon his release. “He is a champion, the prison wishes him all the luck for the future, and I believe he has learnt a lot and will make the best of his career again,” he added.Known as “The Terminator” throughout his career, which spanned from 1998 to 2001 before he was involved in a tragic accident that claimed the lives of three Belgian tourists in 2002 at Langstrand, Swakopmund, Simon remained undefeated with 24fights and 17knock-Outs before being stripped of his belt for failing to defend his title, as he was nursing injuries resulting from the accident. Although he has promised fans that he will return to the boxing ring again, Simon strikes as more of a changed man. He has deep regrets about the two fatal car accidents he was involved in, as indicated in a letter he wrote while serving his sentence. Two people died in the first fatal car crash earlier in 2002. In his letter, Simon spoke of remorse and a new found lease on life upon his release:“Justice had been served and I have been sentenced to two years in prison. For some the sentence was too lenient, but for me – it was an eye opener. If I could turn back the clock I would correct my actions. “I have survived two fatal car accidents, but precious lives were lost. To the bereaved families, I am very sorry. But sorry will never be enough. I ask forgiveness in your hearts, it was never my intention to cause anyone such loss. “To the founding father Sam Nujoma and my ‘daddy’ Hage Geingob – if only I had listened to you. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I promise that this time around I will make you proud.”