Location, location, location; a boxing contest can be just as much about where you fight, as it is about who you fight. Home-field advantage with a raucous crowd behind you, can make all the difference in the ring. But in 2003, David Haye fought in the strangest of locations – the Playboy Mansion.
As the news hits us that the legendary Hugh Hefner has put on his dressing gown for one last time, let us take a trip back to the most bizarre of boxing bouts. It’s 2003, and David Haye was looking to break into the professional boxing world. With a four for four record, he sets off to Los Angeles for his fifth fight against Vance Winn. But they weren’t going to be fighting in any arena, oh no. They were heading for Hefner’s doorstop, fighting in the garden of the world-famous Playboy Mansion.
Haye would win, of course, and the entire bout (all 57 seconds of it) was caught on film:
Let’s break this whole surreal spectacle down.
1. Haye Was A Cruiserweight
It’s easy to forget, but Haye started off his boxing career in the cruiserweight division. You can see in the video how surprisingly lean he looks, not like the heavyweight beast he’s transformed into today. His quickness was evident, too, yet this might also be due to the fact that Haye was fighting a guy who only worked in slow-motion. Ah yes, let’s talk about Vance Winn.
2. Vance “The Opponent” Winn
There’s a bit in The Simpsons’ episode ‘The Homer They Fall’, when Homer comes out as a boxer and all he has written on the back of his gown is “Opponent”. Well, that was Vance Winn. He was the real-life boxing Homer.
The Homer They Fall!
— ✰✰Mr #AFC✰✰ (@AmarSantiago) August 7, 2017
Over a 15-year career in the ring, he won a grand total of six fights. He was literally the guy you called up when you couldn’t secure a punchbag for the day. And his surname was pure irony.
3. They’re In The Actual Playboy Mansion
Yes, it’s real. They actually are fighting in the grounds of the Playboy Mansion. It wasn’t a place famed for hosting sporting events, and just looking at that video you can tell why. A lack of interest seemed to be the overriding factor here. Frat-boys and businessman had more interest in chatting up the Playboy Bunnies, or hanging out with Hefner, than watching the actual fight. Not that the actual fight was exactly worth watching anyway.
If you want to date this video, just pick up on the amount of times the guy filming and Haye himself say “Shamon!”. It’s quite a few. The phrase was initially made famous by that well-known friend of your children, Michael Jackson. Around 2003, though, it took on a new lease of life in the sketch show, Bo’ Selecta, when it was used as a comedic catchphrase. A lot.
“Shamon!” could be heard across school playgrounds for years after, annoying the hell out of everyone over the age of 12. Its repeated use in this video, creates a vibe that you’re watching a VHS tape of your Year 9 school trip to France.
5. Haye Meets Hefner
Towards the end, Haye gets to meet Hefner himself. At 77, and in his fabled dressing gown, Hugh looks for all the world like an ex-boxer. Perhaps one who refused to accept that his in-ring career was over, and refuses to take off his old gown because he’d still like to have a pop at someone (and with Vance Winn, he probably still could’ve). When he meets Haye, it looks doubtful Hefner knew who he was, apart form that British guy who just punched another guy’s lights out in his back garden.
But Hef did know the boxing world. He once said:
“Boxing for me has always been a guilty pleasure. It’s inconsistent with my general philosophy which is “make love, not war” – on every kind of level.
“I grew up with Joe Louis, who was an idol, and the first fight I ever listened to on the radio with my father was the first of the Schmeling fights.”
Hefner would often host famous boxers at the Playboy Mansion, from Muhammed Ali to Lennox Lewis. Like David Haye, they would mingle with the celebrity crowds long into the night. But unlike Haye, none of them would get to experience the craziness of having a boxing fight amidst all the Bunnies.