Gary Johnson-CEO and founder of black men in America
Muhammad Ali is No. 1 and everyone else is No. 2 when it comes to the boxing WORLD. Show Time’s documentary of “The Kings” features the little guys of boxing, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Durant, and Marvin Hagler.
The documentary covers the most exciting era of boxing history second only to Muhammad Ali and Harold Bell was an eye witness to both eras. His voice can be heard in every segment of the documentary. He was up-close and personal with Muhammad Ali and two of “The Kings”.
Ali made him “The Chosen One” in sports media in 1974. On his return to America after the biggest fight of his career in Zaire, Africa. In Zaire he stunned the world when he knocked out the undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, George Foreman. Ali returned home to stun the sports media world when he bypassed, Ed Bradley (60 Minutes), Bryant Gumble (NBC) and Howard Cosell (ABC Sports). His first call was to Harold Bell a little unknown sports talk show host in Washington, DC. His sports talk show “Inside Sports” was the talk of the town on W-O-O-K AM radio in DC in the 70s and 80s.
Ali surprised him with a telephone call near midnight five nights after the fight asking him to meet him in New York City for the interview he had promised him in Chicago before leaving for Zaire. Harold had refused Ali’s invitation to fly to Zaire for the interview, his excuse, “I was scared to fly across the ocean”.
Harold and Ali met on the campus of Howard University in 1967 during Ali’s surprised visit to DC. He spoke on the steps of the campus office building. His topics, were all things boxing and racism in America. Hundreds of students hung on his every word. Harold would later volunteer to take Ali on a walking tour on the legendary Georgia Avenue corridor to the sounds of honking horns and pretty ladies jumping out of cars to kiss Ali. The rest is boxing and sports media history. Never in the history of boxing had a heavyweight champion chose to give an exclusive one on one interview to a black journalist in media. The rest is sports talk radio and television show history.
In 1972 Harold Bell became the first black to host and produce his own radio sports talk show “Inside Sports”! In November 1975 he became the first black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4 in Washington, DC. His special guest was the Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
In 1980 he was named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. The honor made him the the first sportscaster given the award. November 2019 he celebrated 45 years of the Rumble in the Jungle with his historic one on one interview (trailer) with Ali on the big screen at the Miracle Theater on Capitol Hill in NE DC. The National Association of Black Broadcasters (NABJ) honored him with their 2020 Pioneer Award. The recognition of his sports media and community youth advocate careers were against all odds. He is the only sports talk host to campaign for two black pro athletes and successfully have them inducted into their hall of fames. The campaign started after they were blackballed by their sport. Willie Wood was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989 and Earl Lloyd inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003. His legacy continues in the “The Kings” documentary, thanks to The Greatest Muhammad Ali.
His contributions in sports media ranks right there with the legendary contributions of Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier and Sam Lacey of the Afro-American newspapers. Harold Bell and Inside Sports changed the way we talk and report sports in America and around the globe. Every radio and television sports talk show seen and heard have all copied the Inside Sports talk format. He is definitely, THE KING of sports talk radio and television.