Born Howard William Cohen on March 25, 1918 in Winston-Salem, NC. Cosell grew up in Brooklyn and graduated with a law degree from New York University in 1940. He was admitted to the New York state bar in 1941. He served in the US Army during WWII and after leaving the service in 1946, opened a law office in Manhattan.
In 1953 he began hosting a Saturday morning radio show on ABC and by 1956 abandoned his law practice to work full-time in broadcasting. A member of ABC’s Olympic coverage in the 1960’s, he began covering many boxing matches and would soon meet a young Cassius Clay. Cosell, one of the first sports broadcasters to call Clay by his new name, Muhammad Ali, was a staunch supporter of Ali when he refused to be inducted into the Army during the Vietnam War. The pair would forever be linked and their interviews on ABC’s Wide World of Sports are legendary. During his career he also covered Floyd Patterson, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard and the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games among countless others. He called his last fight in 1982 (Holmes W15 Cobb) and retired from broadcasting in 1992 following cancer surgery in 1991.
One of the most influential, controversial, opinionated and skilled sports broadcasters of all time, Cosell was famous for “telling it like it is.” He died on April 23, 1995 from a heart embolism at age 77.
Born: March 25, 1918
Died: April 23, 1995