A British non-league football steward who was adopted as a baby has learned aged 40 that his long-lost father is the legendary American boxing commentator Bob Sheridan who had no idea he had a son until a phone call during his wife’s wake.
Simon Edwards, a supporter of Hitchin Town in Hertfordshire who lives with his adoptive parents, made the incredible discovery about his birth parents after tracking down extended family in Galway, Ireland, and taking a DNA test.
The 40-year-old contacted Mr Sheridan, the Boston-born journalist who covered the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974 and is nicknamed ‘The Colonel’, via an agency just as the celebrated boxing and commentator laid his wife of 26 years, Annie, to rest.
Simon has now adopted the nickname Colonel Jnr as he continues to bond with his father, who insists he didn’t know Rosemary became pregnant, and only found out he had a secret son after his wife’s funeral.
He said: ‘About 30 people came back to my house where I had a pint of Guinness. Then I got a call from people high up in the Government and they told me without question that I have a 41-year-old son named Simon Edwards.
‘We have talked on the phone every day. It is an inspiration in life for me. They took away my wife and the same day they gave me my long-lost son. I had no idea this boy existed’.
Mr Edwards discovered that his birth mother Rosemary, who died in 1985, was from County Clare in the west of Ireland. She had a dalliance with Mr Sheridan while working in a ‘fancy hotel’ close to where the self-confessed ‘wildman’ spent a summer driving cattle in Bunratty, near Shannon.
Simon was born in Newham east London and handed to a Catholic charity before being adopted by British Aerospace scientist Mike Edwards and his wife Sue, a healthcare worker.
But reports that Simon is in line to inherit a multi-million dollar fortune appear wide of the mark, with his birth father saying recently he has never been a millionaire because: ‘I spent a hundred dollars a day more than I made. I spent it on booze and women. And the rest? Oh, I suppose I just blew it.’
Simon Edwards, who was adopted as a child, found out the truth about his birth parents after tracking down extended family in Galway, Ireland
Sheridan, pictured with Mike Tyson, has covered more than 10,000 fights including 100 heavyweight title bouts and was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004
The resemblance between son (left) and birth father (right), as young men, is uncanny. They will meet for the first time this summer
Simon’s Irish birth mother Rosemary died in 1985 – five years after he was born. She had a dalliance with the boxing commentator in 1980 while working in a hotel. She was sent to London to have the baby and he was adopted via a Catholic charity
Simon was adopted as a baby finds he is the sole heir to his fortune after discovering his long-lost father is legendary US boxing commentator ‘The Colonel’ Bob Sheridan
‘The agency that called me we have done a background investigation and this is a terrific kid who is a practicing Catholic and is also a star athlete. He has all his own money and he doesn’t need you for money, he just wants to meet his father. I am flying him to Las Vegas on my birthday in June.
‘I bought his ticket to travel first class from London to Las Vegas on the 21st of June. Everyone in my family is excited. On the 22nd of June is my birthday. We will have my party and Simon’s coming home party’.
The commentator, known for his booming baritone that has made him one of sports most famous voices, has covered more than 10,000 fights including 100 heavyweight title bouts.
His most famous fights include most of Muhammad Ali’s title fights, including the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman and the Thrilla in Manila when he fought Joe Frazier.
He also called most of Mike Tyson’s fights, including when he was knocked out by Buster Douglas and bit Evander Holyfield’s ear. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.
Simon was put up for adoption in east London via a Catholic agency and adopted by British Aerospace scientist Mike Edwards and his wife Sue, a healthcare worker, took him in and he still considers them to be his ‘real parents’.
Simon, a cost controller who also works part-time as a steward for Hitchin Town FC in Hertfordshire, has been blown away by what’s happened.
He told his local newspaper the Hitchin Comet: ‘My adopted parents are from Irish and Liverpool backgrounds, and I grew up in Hitchin. I hadn’t really looked at getting in touch with my birth parents.
‘I took a trip to Galway in 2019, and it was through a genealogy site I tracked some family down.
‘My birth mum passed away in 1985, she had nine sisters and one brother – huge family out there – and they filled me in. It was a lovely trip, they really accepted me as part of the family.’
Bob Sheridan interviews Muhammad Ali in 1974. He says he knew straight away that Simon was his son when they spoke on the phone
The 40-year-old from Hitchin (left) contacted Bob Sheridan (pictured left), who covered the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974, via an agency just as the commentator laid his wife to rest
Simon was put up for adoption in east London via a Catholic agency and adopted by British Aerospace scientist Mike Edwards and his wife Sue, a healthcare worker, took him in and he still considers them to be his ‘real parents’
It was then he learned his father was a famous multi-millionaire who had just become a widower.
He said: ‘I just emailed him to say I was sorry for his loss. From there, he asked for my number and we have been speaking on the phone every day.
‘To other people it must seem amazing that this famous person is my dad, but for me it’s amazing to just know who my dad is and be in touch with him.
‘I’d probably still be as blown-away if he was a plumber from down the road.’
He is now heading to the United States to meet his birth father.
‘All of a sudden all these superstars who are friends of his want to meet me,’ he said.
‘I went to Irish professional boxer Steve Collins’ house, and it turns out he knew my mum as well, and have had other big names get in touch.
‘Bob’s sent me some tickets to go out to Vegas for his birthday in June. From there, I’ll be flying all over America.
‘It’s all very exciting – but I’m trying to take it all in my stride. My mum and dad here are over the moon – they’ve always said if I wanted to find them they would be behind me.’
Simon (pictured in the background) has two children with his partner, who is from the Philippines
As The Colonel, given the nickname due to his rank in the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, didn’t have any children with his wife, Simon is set to be entitled to inherit his fortune.
Sheridan now says he is looking forward to meeting his new grandchildren, Keira, nine, and Scarlette, four.
The commentator, known for his booming baritone, has covered more than 10,000 fights including 100 heavyweight title bouts.