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Basketball Fan
03-29-2011, 10:36 AM
http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2011/03/27/2011-03-27_final_round_for_a_boxing_soul.html#


Longtime boxing announcer Nick Charles, 64, calls final bout while battling Stage 4 bladder cancer
Tim Smith

Sunday, March 27th 2011, 4:00 AM


CNNNick Charles calls his final boxing match on Saturday night. Related NewsRaissman: Tyson would be perfect 'After Dark'Raissman: Jets supply cast of characters for 'Hard Knocks'ATLANTIC CITY - Nick Charles, working ringside at the small room inside Boardwalk Hall, called his last boxing match Saturday night. He won't ever do it again.

It's not because Charles is retiring. It's not because he's being fired and drummed out of the broadcasting business.

Charles, 64, has Stage 4 bladder cancer and literally has a few weeks at most to live.

Working one last boxing broadcast was a dying wish from a man whose fight with cancer has led him to epitomize the strength and bravery that he has witnessed inside the ring in more than three decades of calling matches.

Charles did most of his play-by-play work for Showtime, but it was its rival, HBO, that granted him his wish, allowing him to call the first match of a doubleheader on its "Boxing After Dark" broadcast Saturday night. Mikey Garcia (25-0, 21 KOs) stopped Matt Remillard on a 10th-round TKO after Remillard (23-1, 13 KOs), who was knocked down three times in featherweight the fight, failed to come out for the 11th round in Charles' bout. In the main event, Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs) knocked down Jorge Solis (40-3-2, 29 KOs) four times before stopping him at 1:31 of the fourth round to retain the IBF featherweight title.

Charles' participation came about when Rick Bernstein, the executive producer of HBO boxing broadcasts, was on the train heading into work one morning and read a story on the announcer and his battle with cancer in Sports Illustrated. He was touched by a comment from Charles in the article that he'd like to cover one more fight for television before he died, but that it probably wouldn't happen. Bernstein and Charles were acquainted because Charles had been the host for some of the HBO pay-per-view shows in the 1990s.

Bernstein was so moved by the comment that he went to Ross Greenburg, HBO Sports president, and told him he was going to use Charles on the Garcia-Remillard fight. Greenburg agreed that they should. After determining that Charles would be available and strong enough to work, they finalized the details.

Charles last worked a fight on Dec. 4 in Anaheim, calling the match between Humberto Soto and Urbano Antillon on a Top Rank Promotions pay-per-view. It was an all-action bout that many thought was the 2010 Fight of the Year.

There are very few acts of kindness in boxing, because the business is so cutthroat. Bernstein and Greenburg are to be applauded for granting Charles a dying wish. It is truly a humane act in a cruel world.

It was an exhausting weekend in Atlantic City for Charles, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M., with his beloved wife of 14 years, Cory, and cherished 5-year-old daughter, Giovanna. He had to take two flights and an hour-long car ride to reach AC. On Friday, he went through a day of interviews with the fighters and production meetings.

He threw himself into the work, doing all the necessary research and planning to make the broadcast go smoothly. He was exhausted, but happy to be back in the mix for one last time.

Charles is the ultimate professional, even when he's thrown a curveball.

I witnessed that firsthand. Before Mike Tyson fought Julius Francis in England, his PR people had set up a few one-on-one interviews with Tyson in a hotel ballroom where he was working out a few days before the fight. I was the only U.S. newspaper reporter that Tyson would talk to during that session. Charles, as part of the Showtime broadcast team, was also slated to interview Tyson.

Tyson talked to me first. The interview went well, until the end. An innocent question about sightseeing in London sent Tyson on an emotional roller coaster. The last stop was screaming anger as Tyson had to be restrained by his handlers as he unleashed a torrent of expletives my way.

Charles, who was setting up for his interview just across the room, witnessed the end of the tirade. He walked over to me and said, "Thanks for warming him up for me."

It is easy to feel sorry for Charles. You wouldn't be human if you didn't. But we should all celebrate his bravery, his courage and his strength in the face of the finality of the dreadful disease that has stricken him. And we should applaud those who are willing to grant a dying man an opportunity to live out his dream one last time.

n For more on the HBO bouts, go to nydailynews.com/sports

Basketball Fan
06-25-2011, 01:29 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/25/nick.charles.obit/index.html?hpt=hp_c1



(CNN) -- Nick Charles, who started off as a taxi driver and later became the first sports anchor at CNN, died Saturday after battling bladder cancer since 2009. He was 64.

Charles died peacefully, looking out at the spectacular land that drew him to Santa Fe, New Mexico, his wife, Cory, said.

Charles began at CNN on the network's first day, June 1, 1980, and covered nearly every sporting event over the years.

He was paired with Fred Hickman for most of the next two decades on "Sports Tonight," a show that beat ESPN in ratings when the upstarts were battling for viewers. To this day, he and Hickman remain one of the longest-lasting anchor duos in television.

Topps, the trading-card company, put Charles' million-dollar smile on a bubble gum card, a rarity for a television personality. People magazine once dubbed him one of the most handsome men in America.

"Nick was your friend from the moment you met him -- and he stayed your friend forever," said Rick Davis, one of Charles' producers at CNN in the 1980s. "All of us who had the very good fortune to have been his friend have so much to remember about how he touched our lives in his own special way," said Davis, who is CNN's executive vice president of News Standards and Practices.

At his home in Santa Fe recently, Charles pointed to his signature mop of curly black hair as he scrolled through photographs of his on-air days. "Look at that thing," he said with a laugh. "It's my Billy Ray Cyrus mullet."

Facing death, Charles embraced life

While the world knew Charles for his sportscaster days, it was his battle with cancer that inspired tens of thousands of people. In a recent CNN.com article, he talked openly about the dying process and preparing his family for when he was gone. He made birthday video diaries for his 5-year-old daughter, Giovanna, in the years to come.

"This is a gift from God where I need to build these memories for her, so that I'm not a blur," he said. "I feel that when I go, that I'm going to prepare a place for my daughter and my wife. I'm going to be in their heart and soul. I tell them that every day."

His message, he said, is to "never give up on life."

"It's an imperfect world, but, boy, it's still beautiful."

"What is life?" he said. "It's 20 percent what happens to you and 80 percent how you react to it."

"Find that little kernel every day that brings you pleasure and joy -- and fasten onto that. That's what's going to make life worth living. Always look for the best."

"When you're contemplating your mortality and your life," he said, "those are the things I reflect on."



April: Nick Charles hoped for miracle

April: Anchor embraced life facing death

Former CNN anchor Nick Charles dies

Colleagues remember Nick Charles The son of a taxi driver who was mostly absent from his life, Nicholas Charles Nickeas grew up poor in inner-city Chicago. In grade school, during the frigid winters when his dad didn't pay the heat bills, Charles would curl up in bed with his mother and brother to stay warm.

He struggled in high school. He had no mentors. He was too busy working late-night jobs at produce docks in desolate Chicago neighborhoods. Once, his boss pointed to mounds of rat feces, threw lye all over the floor and handed the 17-year-old Charles a pair of gloves, rubber boots and a hoe.

He scrubbed away, but thought to himself: "I'll never be trapped again in life. Never. Never."

"That was a watershed, life-changing moment for me. It really drove me to the point where I had focus in my life."

He eventually went to Columbia College Chicago, where he studied communications and journalism.

He drove a taxi to help pay for college. Even in the driver's seat, he was practicing for his broadcast career.

"I wasn't nosey, but just curious about people's life. I'd ask, 'How'd you get to this country? What was the spark that motivated you in life?' ... I don't know what it was, but people would open up."

Charles was still driving taxis in the fall of 1970 when he auditioned for his first television job, at WICS in Springfield, Illinois.

Two days later, he got the job. He took a pay cut to enter the television business: $130 a week as a sports anchor, compared with $200 driving a taxi.

He was told by his news director that his Greek name was too ethnic and to change it to something more "vanilla."

"Nick Nickeas, sounds like you got a stutter, too," the news director added.

At the age of 24, Nick Charles was born. He covered sports for WICS, before the job rolled into just about anything, from farm reports to fluff. A wolf once urinated on his leg: "The mother wolf was a little mad. We got a little too close to her cubs."

From Springfield, he worked at local stations in Baltimore and Washington before joining CNN.

And it's at CNN where he shined.

In his prime, he and Hickman had chemistry, charisma and dynamism -- a duo of boundless energy. The two were revolutionary for their time, a white and black man sitting side-by-side live every night in studios from the once-segregated South.

"We just clicked from the very beginning," Hickman said in an interview before Charles' death. "In television, you always have personality conflicts. Nick and I never had one. Nick and I have always had a tremendous relationship."

Hickman's favorite memory with his long-time friend came in the 1980s when they arrived in Los Angeles for the Cable Ace Awards. Stretch limousines and other luxurious cars were parked everywhere. "We pulled up in a red Ford Tempo," Hickman said with a laugh.

His favorite line ever uttered by Charles came after Mike Tyson demolished an opponent: "Tyson tore his meat house down."

"I still don't know what it means," Hickman said, "but I love it."

Charles covered everything from the Olympics to the Super Bowl to the Kentucky Derby. But boxing was his passion.

He covered some of the most classic boxing matches -- when Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear, when Roberto Duran quit and told Sugar Ray Leonard, "No mas."

Seeing an undefeated Tyson get knocked out by Buster Douglas in Tokyo in 1990 was epic.

"That night was magical," Charles said. "It speaks to the uncertainty, that anybody's cloak of invincibility can be ripped away."

Charles would cry when he talked about the strength of boxers, because when he looked at the ring, he saw young men like him from the inner city who had to rely on themselves to reach success.

"You have to walk down that alley way to the ring," he said. "You're going to get hit. You have to take pain to get it. You have to fight through fear."

"There's just such an empathy I have for these guys. They want it so badly."

Tyson on Saturday sent a message on Twitter: "Mourning the loss of a true warrior. My friend & brother, Nick Charles."

In an interview in March, Charles had said he hoped to make it to one more Easter, to see his dream home completed in May, to see his daughter play the piano, to reach his 65th birthday on June 30. He made three of those four goals.

"If I don't make it," he said, "there's no need for any pity parties."

"People won't remember who you are or what you said," he said. "It's really about: Are you going to be remembered as a good person?"

"That's victory to me. That's success."

Charles is survived by his wife, Cory, of 13 years and their daughter, Giovanna. He has three children from two previous marriages: Jason, 39; Melissa, 36; and Katie, 24.

"His passing is a loss to CNN, to the sports world and to the fans and friends everywhere who were with him to the end of his extraordinary life," said Jim Walton, Charles' field producer in his early days and current president of CNN Worldwide.

Nick Charles and his family formed the "Embrace Life" project to help stop child trafficking and abuse, increase access to education and allow children to embrace life. Working with the humanitarian organization World Vision and the TEACH NOW: Preventing Child Labor in the Philippines project, the family welcomes support here: www.worldvision.org/EmbraceLife.