Nick Charles is one of the boxing premier reporters, a journalist who began his career at the beginning of the television news transition from the old network days toward twenty four news cycles of cable and the Internet. Charles started his career at time when the media was strictly three networks and a few metro stations. AM radio, constrained by the fairness doctrine, was essentially local radio and sports broadcasts; local teams dominated local radio talk and radio news. There was no ESPN radio and local broadcasters were larger than live figures as they broadcast the favorite local team.
National broadcast featured few sporting events and=2 0boxing fights were often big affairs but limited in appearances. While many pundits few pre-1980’s as the golden era of boxing broadcasting, majority of big boxing events were often not shown and compared the number of boxing matches available to the public today; there were very few. Many of Ali’s bouts were not shown during his hey day or shown on wide world of sports. In the 1950’s, boxing was a regular feature with a weekly series but by the 1980, big events were PPV but unavailable to the general public as many PPV were broadcast in local theatres.
This was the sporting world that the young Nick Charles began his career but in the late 70’s. Entrepreneur Ted Turner began a new revolution that changed television forever as he started CNN, a 24 hour new channel and ESPN began broadcasting as 24 hour sport news station. Today, we are used to 24 hour news and with the addition of the internet; one can get sporting news any time and keep up with their favorite team with every little detail examined. In 1980, most pundits wondered out=2 0loud exactly what is the market for 24 hour news cycle.
Charles cut his teeth with CNN and became one of a leading sport reporters; appearing at the big events including many of boxing big events. As the decade progressed, cable networks became factors as PPV events became available in one own homes and boxing fans no longer needed to go to the local PPV theatre but instead can watch big events in the privacy of their homes.
ESPN, who began broadcasting any sport from Australian rugby to pool, began to show that there was a demand for 24 hour news station and when the NFL added ESPN to their broadcasting allies in 1987, ESPN was on its way on being the force in sports broadcasting.
ESPN allowed boxing to s tay alive in the 1980’s as they broadcast their own weekly series and stars just like Mike Tyson became weekly staple. Tyson own rise to popularity can be traced to ESPN as he rapidly became a superstar with knockouts after knockouts as he moved up on his career..
I first met Charles in Laughlin, Nevada for a SHOBOX event featuring the charismatic Paulie Malignaggi head lining the main event. By this time, Charles was a regular feature in the boxing world along with his co-announcer, Steve Farhood. In a wide ranging conversation of boxing, both Farhood and Charles gave a history lesson of the past decades while discussing their preparation and take of the upcoming bouts that evening. SHOBOX, the Next Generation was becoming one of boxing premier series as=2 0Charles and Farhood chronicle the rise of boxing stars. What I remember about that interview was the accessibility of Nick Charles. He enjoyed the discussion and the interview lasted an hour longer than originally schedule, it was like talking to an old friend.
Charles himself saw the transition of sports coverage moving from the networks toward cable and he was now witnessing additional coverage shifting toward the Internet. From that point, we would occasionally stay in contact and I covered a few other SHOBOX events, and every time, Charles was ever the gentleman; always glad to see me and always willing to talk boxing.
It was a shock to read that Nick Charles is now battling cancer and one only hopes for recovery. Charles has been one of boxing better broadcaster and one of the sports biggest advocates. In that initial interview, he deplored how many sports reporters and editors gave boxing the short shift and as he noted, “There is nothing more exciting in sports than a knock out.” May Charles win his biggest battle and return back to the arena that he served so well.
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