A secret that happened 47 years ago, it all started with a phone call in the middle of the night to sports talk show pioneer Harold K. Bell. No one could have imagined how that phone call from Muhammad Ail would change Harold Bell’s life forever.
Muhammad Ali & Harold K Bell
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Oct. 20, 2021 – PRLog — Sports talk show radio pioneer Harold Bell scored an exclusive one-on-one interview with “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali. The interview took place after Ali knocked out the undefeated (40-0) and undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, George Foreman in Zaire, Africa, on October 30, 1974. The historical showdown is now known as ‘The Rumble in the Jungle. Bell was the first media personality to interview Ali on American soil when he arrived back in the United States five days later.
The interview made him the first-ever black media personality to interview a World Heavyweight Champion one on one. He remembers Ali did not call Ed Bradley (CBS 60 Minutes), Bryant Gumble (NBC Good Morning America), or Howard Cosell (ABC Wide World of Sports), he called Harold Bell a little-known sports talk radio show host in Washington, DC. It all started on the campus of Howard University in 1967 when Ali was touring college campuses to talk to students about why he was refusing to join the U. S. Army and racism in America.
Bell was working with youth gangs and at-risk children in the mean streets of DC when he found the champion standing on the steps of the Howard University administration Building. There were hundreds of students hanging on his every word. After the champ’s rousing speech he asked for a volunteer to show him around the campus. Before one of the pretty female students could volunteer, Bell grabbed the champ by the arm and took him on a tour of the Georgia Avenue NW DC corridor leading to the historical Howard Theatre, the home of black entertainment royalty. They became friends and the rest is American sports history.
In the summer of 1974, Ali invited Bell to Chicago to discuss a One On One interview for a television special. In that meeting, the champ invited Bell to travel with him to Zaire for the interview, but Bell said, “No!” When the champ asked him why? He confessed, “I am scared to fly across the ocean.” Ali laughed at him and called him ‘Chicken’, but Bell stood his ground and refused to go. As he was preparing to fly back to DC later that evening after dinner, the champ pulled him to the side and whispered, “Since you are scared to fly across the ocean, when I knock that chump Foreman out, I will give you the first interview when I arrive back home!” Bell just smiled and said, “ok” because the champ was always talking crazy.
He did not take him seriously and flew back to DC to watch on closed-circuit television. “The Greatest” upset in the WORLD when Muhammad Ali knocked out the heavily favorite Foreman in the 8th round. What happened on a rainy night five days later after the Rumble in the Jungle, he still finds it hard to believe. He was in a deep sleep when his telephone rang, and the voice on the other end demanded to speak to Harold Bell. He was still trying to wake up and asked who was calling? The voice again demanded to speak to Harold Bell. His response again was, whose calling? This time the voice on the other end responded. “Fool this the Heavyweight Champion of the World Muhammad Ali.” Bell sat straight up in the bed thinking he was dreaming or having a nightmare. He gathered himself and said, “What’s up champ?” Ali asked, “Do you still want to do that interview?” Bell said, “Yea champ.” Ali gave Bell the hotel where he was staying in New York City. The interview is a classic, it is the only interview on the planet with Ali displaying a black eye on his handsome face.
It has been 47 years and Bell is still humbled that the great Muhammad Ali made him “The Chosen One” on that rainy night in Washington, DC in 1974. This is an incredible opportunity for all media outlets to secure a historic interview with Harold K. Bell. November 30th will mark the 47th anniversary of arguably the greatest boxing upset in history. Harold Bell has not missed a beat in 2020 he was honored by the National Association of Black Journalists with their pioneer award, he was one of the August 2021 expert voices heard in Showtime’s “The 4 Kings”, spotlighting the boxing careers of Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Sugar Ray Ray Leonard (mentee). In the much-acclaimed Ken Burns PBS documentary on Muhammad Ali, he was invited to be a panelist on cable Maryland Public Television. He joined MPT Moderator, Charles Robinson, Ken Burns’ daughter, Sara, and son-in-law Dave McMahon to preview the Ali documentary. He stole the show!
ATTENTION ALL MEDIA OUTLETS to schedule and secure an interview with Harold K Bell. Who has the first interview of The Greatest Muhammad Ali when he returned from Zaire Africa, please contact Leon Youngblood at 760-213-6106. or email him at LeonYoungblood8@
“Harold, congratulations, your archives are valuable and should be given the broadest possible exposure. Your discs and videos of your programs belong in the new Smithsonian Institution of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). A wing of the new museum will be dedicated to the struggle in sports and will be titled “Leveling the Playing Field”. Your work was a major force over the years in leveling the playing field, especially in terms of the struggle to define and project “Our Truth!” Dr. Harry Edwards