I’d Have Been Nothing Without You !
It’s often been said the relationships and friendships one has can clearly define us as a person. And in some instances it is true. Though for some it hasn’t always been the case. One relationship that I genuinely believe was something built out of mutual respect and in some cases one built out of adoration if nothing else. Well it was the friendship that was cemented between renowned broadcaster Howard Cosell and former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Though the two on the face of it had nothing in common . Heir’s was a friendship that at times bordered on that of father and son. Whilst there wasn’t often obedience being conveyed by way of their interaction. It has to be said that their friendship was something that played out as a comedic farce that was genuinely entertaining . Though at times it was Cosell who became the butt of Ali’s jokes. And Cosell willingly abetted Ali in the joviality . If nothing else it made for great television and the viewers and fight fans lapped it up for all it was worth. And most certainly the interaction between the two made Ali’s fights all the more pleasurable to watch. The publicity gleaned by way of the hype and that of Cosell wanting to be part of it all was merely nothing more than a way of selling a bout.
The bouts themselves were memorable in more ways than one . If it wasn’t Ali being the consummate showman describing how he would either be knocking out his opponent whilst also mocking them. Then it was also about Cosell , himself. He often interjected himself into the show. If for nothing else other than wanting the public to know that it was he , Howard Cosell. Who was the person being the ring master bringing us the indomitable Muhammad Ali. Cosell was absorbed in his own self importance but he also could be passionate about things he felt were undignified and socially immoral.
And nowhere was this more apparent than when he came to the support of Ali. The boxer’s treatment at the hands of the government after his refusal to enter the military during the Vietnam War saw Cosell openly come out to criticize administration at the time. He fully supported the fighter and in his cause made it known to those who were prepared to listen. Though it had to be said he had his detractors for taking that particular stance. But at the same time one has to admire someone who’s prepared to go against public opinion and forsake friendships along the way.
Though Cosell was known primarily for his broadcast commentary provided for ABC’s Monday Night Football. At its inception in 1970, he would be working alongside Keith Jackson and Don Meredith. Frank Gifford would join the team later in 1971 after the departure of Jackson . Cosell carried out other duties for the network. He wrote several books and his long standing relationship and marriage to his beloved wife Mary Edith Cosell. “Emmy” to those who knew her best and their marriage that stood for over forty five years.