Joe Wright, Jr.’s father, Joe Wright, Sr., was a notable international rower who won medals for Canada in the coxed eights at the 1904 and 1908 Summer Olympics. Nonetheless, Joe Junior did not taking up rowing until 1924, but quickly showed that he had inherited his father’s athletic prowess. Prior to becoming Canadian and United States Champion in the single sculls in 1927, he had the nation’s hopes riding on him to win that year’s Diamond Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta, then the equivalent of a world championship in the event. At the regatta, he had nearly won when he got tangled in a rope shortly before the finish line and was unable to free himself before Robert Lee of Oxford claimed victory. Wright came back one year later, however, and defeated Lee to win the event, also overcoming a fellow Canadian, Jack Guest, in the semifinals. Guest and Wright teamed up for the double sculls and were selected to represent Canada at the 1928 Summer Olympics, where they were defeated by the American duo of Charley McIlvaine and Paul Costello in the final and took home a silver medal. Wright also participated in the single sculls, where he was eliminated in the quarterfinals by David Collet of Great Britain, the eventual bronze medalist. He was also an alternate for the Canadian men’s eights squad that won a bronze medal, but did not compete in that event.
Wright would make two more attempts to win the Diamond Sculls, in 1929 and 1930, but was unable to do so, being defeated by Bert Gunther of the Netherlands in the former and eliminated early on by Gerhard Boetzelen of Germany in the latter. His final major international competition was the 1932 Summer Olympics, where he was the only one of five single scullers not to reach the final. Outside of rowing he played Canadian football with the Toronto Argonauts from 1924 through 1936 and helped them win the Grey Cup in 1933. After retiring from active competition he served in executive capacities for both sports and was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1955. He met swimmer Martha Norelius, a three-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States, at the Wrigley Marathon Swimming Race in Toronto (which Norelius won) in 1929, and the two were married on March 15, 1930.