We got our first TV set in 1953. Living in the hills of northern Arkansas, the closest television station was about 100 miles away, KARK, channel four, in Little Rock, an NBC affiliate. Even with an all-channel antenna, one that stuck high in the air and had to be rotated by hand, the reception was snowy, grainy at best. Because of problems inherent with early TV transmission and reception in rural areas, none of our neighbors owned a set. From miles around, friends would visit to watch the 17-inch tube.
By far the most popular show was "Gillette's Cavalcade of Sports," spotlighting boxing, the "Friday Night Fights" from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The bell would sound and Jimmy Powers at ringside would announce, "Friday night fights are on the air!" Then Sharpie the Parrot would squawk, "Look sharp! Feel sharp! Be Sharp! With Gillette razor blades."
Wrestling on Saturday nights was second to the Friday night fights. But boxing always drew the bigger crowd. Fights were so popular that all weight divisions were represented, not just heavy weights.
Viewers were treated to the likes of Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, and Ezzard Charles. The fight I remember most was the one we all missed (at least we missed the knockout) because it was over while we were visiting. Jersey Joe Walcott had lost the World's Heavyweight Crown to Rocky Marciano. In attempting to regain the Crown, he was knocked out in the first round by Marciano. This match was televised from Chicago rather than from Madison Square Garden.
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