TWO GREAT TO BE IGNORED: ALI AND HAROLD BELL!
BY MIKE RAMEY
“Just because you ignore me; don’t mean that I’m not here.”
–James A. Green, Pastor
TRAIL BLAZERS: “The road to success is not a path you find, but a trail you blaze”.
Washington DC ‘back in the day’ talk show host Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Jr. would soon turn the nation’s capital into ‘P’ town with his on-air delivery, and off-air style. What is generally not known is that Harold Bell, in 1967, got his start in radio Sports Journalism on “Petey Greene’s Washington.” Oh, there were days of hammering out scripts on a manual typewriter, chasing down local sports teams and a variety of sports stars, and putting together a show that kept him, Petey and the DC market happy, humming and asking for more.
These days, Bell after close to five decades of making his debut (1970) on sports talk radio and changing the way we talk sports in America, he continues to write, interview and produce blogs titled: “The Original Inside Sports and Black Men in America.com”. He still makes the rounds of the DC market, whether it’s a Wizard’s game, or watching pee-wee football or talking with sports ‘newsmakers’, checking in with old friends, or keeping up his passion for helping Black youth to achieve their dreams behind the microphone and in the locker room. He still mentors a few young men by taking them out to learn the craft of Sports Journalism from the street and high school levels on up. He is the most decorated media personality in the country. Some of the sports media on air personalities who came through Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame include, Dave Bing (NBA),James Brown (CBS), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (TNT), Sugar Ray Leonard (ESPN), John Thompson, Jr. (ESPN), Bill Rhoden (ESPN), Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. (ESPN), Grant Hill (ESPN) and Cathy Hughes (Radio & TV One) to name just a few.
Bell shows no signs of slowing down. His energy in the pursuit of truth on the court, on the field, or in the Game called life is well known. So well known, in fact that it drew the admiration of one well-known sports icon: Muhammad Ali. He met Ali on the campus of Howard University in 1967. Their unique relationship and conversations are now Legendary. Bell did the unthinkable more than 40 years ago in 1974…scooping ABC sports icon Howard Cosell, 60 Minutes’ Ed Bradley, and NBC’s Byrant Gumble. This was just days after Ali had become the heavyweight champion of the world again, in Zaire, Africa. The match was the iconic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ against then-undefeated champion George Foreman. The Foreman/Ali match up had Ali as the underdog. History was made that night in Africa against all odds by Ali. The interview focused on an unfiltered view of Ali’s life, immediately after one of the more crucial boxing matches of his career. It was a no holds barred interview real life, with Ali as he was.
Bell left the entire sports media world scratching their heads again in 1975. He became the first black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4. His special guest was “The Greatest.”
There is a short “Teaser” of the interview on You Tube with an introduction by Emmy Award winning actor Robert Hooks, who is also a big fan of Bell’s and Ali. It’s a step back in time; to a time where reporting was made by heart, hustle, and ‘have mercy’. Bell makes the grade with this look at the champ. As Black History is being oppressed and told by others with hidden agendas, there is still hope that Bell’s piece of exclusive Black sports history will be seen by more eyes, and heard, by more ears. The late sports columnist Dick Heller of the Washington Times called Bell “The God Father” of sports talk, his sports media journey and one of a kind interview with Ali makes it difficult to call Heller a liar.
He has been called a lot of things by people who requested anonimity, but the one title given him that use to bother him, the word ‘Activist.’ He says, “I could not understand why using truth to power and being an advocate for children long before Columbine and Parkland made me a ‘Trouble Maker’? I am thankful, I have lived to see where being an Activist and Making Children First have become a part of the American landscape.” I have even called him ‘The Original Black Panther!’
To understand the mindset of Harold Bell, you would have to understand his heroes were not the black athletes he admired like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Paul Roberson, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos, Tommie Smith and Muhammad Ali. His heroes could not run the 100 yard dash in 9 seconds, hit a baseball out of the park, throw a football 60 yards in the air or hit a jump shot. His heroes were black women, his mother, Mattie and his grandmother, Amy Tyler Bell.
Bell says, “It does not get any better than to sit on the Mountain Top with Ali
Mike Ramey is a Minister, Reviewer and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. He brings current and lesser-known titles to light to re-kindle a love for reading and thinking in a sea of modern technology. Feel free to reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2018 Barnstorm Communications.
Lift up Christ and lay the sinner low. –C. H. Spurgeon
Good to hear of a local brother receiving accolades well deserved. I also grew up in D.C., and during the same time frame as Harold, although I don’t know him. It’s gratifying to hear of his contributions not only in sports journalism, but also his work in the D.C. community mentoring young men. Yes, the interview of Ali was great.