Ian Wright won a coxed four bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics (along with Chris White, Andrew Bird, Greg Johnston and George Keys) and was stroke of the coxed four that finished 11th at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He returned for a third Olympics in 1996 at Atlanta, but the coxless four he was involved in struggled and eventually finished 13th.
Wright also competed at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, winning a silver medal with Barrie Mabbott in the coxless pair and a bronze in the eight. He won a world championship bronze medal in the coxless four at Bled in 1989.
Rowing for the powerful Hamilton club, Wright picked up a sackful of national titles. He was a member of New Zealand champion eights crews in 1985, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95 and 96, won fours titles in 1989, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94 and 95, coxless fours titles in 1987, 88, 89, 90, 93, 94 and 96, coxless pairs in 1994 and 95, plus three coxed pairs titles - a total of 31 in all.
Wright was teaching and coaching rowing at St Paul's Collegiate in Hamilton and later at Hamilton Boys', producing Maadi Cup-winning squads at each school. He coached the New Zealand under-23 team at various times during the 2000s and the development coxed four to the world championships in 2003.
Ian moved to Australia to head coach at Melbourne University Boat Club, where he had impressive success.