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Wide World of Sports Highlights -- 1970s
ABC Sports Online


January 3
Howard Cosell interviews Curt Flood about the Major League Baseball Reserve Clause.

January 17
First Wide World of Sports telecast of the World Wristwrestling Championships from Petaluma, Calif.

February 21
Joe Frazier knocks out Jimmy Ellis in the fifth round for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship from New York City.

March 14
Tim Wood wins his second consecutive world title at the World Figure Skating Championships in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

March 21
The International Ski Flying Championship from Oberstdorf provides one of the most memorable moments in Wide World of Sports history. On his third jump, Vinko Bogataj tumbled down the jump and became forever more the "agony of defeat". Vinko wasn't seriously hurt, suffering only a concussion. He was jumping again the following year, but never with the same abandon he once had. Today, he lives in Lesce in northern Yugoslavia with his wife and two daughters. He still jumps in senior competitions and does a little coaching. The 1991 world champion, Franci Petek, comes from Lesce and was first coached by Vinko.

March 28
Buddy Baker breaks the world closed-course speed record of over 200 mph.

May 2
Dan Gable losses his final match in collegiate competition to Larry Owings of Washington at the NCAA Championships. It was the only loss of his collegiate career.

June 13
The World Invitational High Diving Championship in Montreal, Canada and the LeMans 24-Hour Grand Prix of Endurance from LeMans, France marks the first time that sports events from two different foreign countries were presented live on the same telecast.

October 31
In Atlanta, Muhammad Ali defeats Jerry Quarry in the third round, in his first fight in three years.

November 14
Cathy Rigby becomes the first American in history to win a medal at the World Gymnastics Championships in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia with a silver on the balance beam.

November 21
Joe Frazier knocks out Bob Foster in the second round of their World Heavyweight Championship fight in Detroit.

December 26
World Cup Soccer final between Italy and Brazil featuring Pelé.


January 23
Tyler Palmer records the first-ever World Cup victory in alpine skiing for the United States in St. Moritz.

February 13
USA-USSR gymnastics meet from University Park, Pa.

February 20
The World Weightlifting Championships in Columbus, Ohio features Vassily Alexeyev making history by lifting 501 1/4 pounds in the clean and jerk, making him the first man to ever lift 500 pounds in competition. Between 1970 and 1977, Alexeyev set 80 world records, many of which appeared on Wide World of Sports.

February 20
The Daytona 500 included the now legendary crash of Maynard Troyer as his #60 car tumbled down the track. Amazingly, like Vinko Bogataj, he lived to talk about it.

March 13
Analysis of the World Heavyweight Championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier with Muhammad Ali.

March 13
Report on Mario Andretti's victory in the Grand Prix of South Africa, the first Grand Prix victory of his career.

April 17
The U.S. Table Tennis Team, following its historic trip inside the People's Republic of China, appears on Wide World of Sports live via satellite from Tokyo with its own "home movies" of their trip. This is the beginning of the famous "Ping Pong Diplomacy."

June 5
Jackie Stewart wins the Grand Prix of Monaco, one of five races he won in 1971 en route to the world title.

August 28
Coverage of the USA-Cuba volleyball match from Havana marks the first time an American television network sports department covers a sports event in Cuba since Premier Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. The commentator was Peter Jennings, now of "World News Tonight" fame. He received an exclusive interview with Castro, during which the Cuba leader corrected his translator.


January 22
Ken Shelley wins the gold medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the men's competition as well as the pairs with partner Jo Jo Starbuck.

January 29
Jim Ryun faces 1968 Olympic Games rival Kip Keino in an indoor mile run in Los Angeles.

February 12
The International Bikini Sports Competition from Rosarito Beach, Mexico.

February 26
President Richard Nixon and Premier Chou-en-Lai attend the Chinese Gymnastics Exhibition. That performance came during Nixon's historic trip to China, coming less than a year after the President lifted a 21-year embargo against the country.

February 26
A.J. Foyt becomes the first man to win the Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Daytona 500. And he did all three on Wide World.

April 1
Mark Spitz finishes his collegiate career at Indiana with victories in the 100- and 200-yard butterflies.

April 15
USA-People's Republic of China Table Tennis competition from Detroit provides another chapter in "Ping Pong Diplomacy". It also provided Wide World of Sports with one of its most memorable moments as the athletes marched out of Cobo Arena with their arms raised together.

June 3
Steve Prefontaine wins the third of four consecutive NCAA titles in the 5000 meters on his home track of Hayward Field in Eugene in front of the fans who loved him most. His victory came within miles of the spot where he died three years later in a tragic accident.

July 8, 15 & 22
Coverage of the World Chess Championships between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky from Reykjavik, Iceland.

August 19
Wide World of Sports coverage of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials features Mark Spitz taking a critical step towards the Olympics.

September 23
Muhammad Ali ends the career of former world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson with a seventh round knockout in New York City.

November 25
The seventh highest rated show in Wide World of Sports history features the Muhammad Ali-Bob Foster fight, the World Ski Flying Championships and a report on Olga Korbut.


January 13
The Harlem Globetrotters make their debut on Wide World of Sports.

January 27
World Heavyweight Championship fight between Joe Frazier and George Foreman from Kingston, Jamaica. Can you say, "Down Goes Frazier, Down Goes Frazier, Down Goes Frazier."

March 3
The World Figure Skating Championships in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia produces one of the great moments in the history of Wide World of Sports. The Soviet pair of Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev were in the midst of their free skating program when their music stopped. The duo continued to skate, finishing within a second of the time the music would have ended, and won the gold medal, Rodnina's fifth and her first with Zaitsev.

March 24
Olga Korbut and the USSR Gymnastics Team visit New York City for a performance in Madison Square Garden.

March 31
Ken Norton wins a 12-round decision against Muhammad Ali in their heavyweight fight from San Diego, Calif. The show ranks as the eighth highest rated in Wide World of Sports history.

May 26
The USA-China gymnastics meet in Madison Square Garden provides a vivid picture of an athlete overcoming language and cultural barriers, not to mention politics. Nancy Thies was set to perform in the floor exercise, but the cassette with her music would not function. The Chinese, however, traveled with a pianist who played their music, and after some discussion, he played for Thies, composing the music as he watched her moves. The two, and their families, have become close friends.

June 16
Jackie Stewart wins the Grand Prix of Monaco to equal the all-time Grand Prix record for victories with 25, tying a record set by his friend and countryman Jim Clark.

August 4 & 11
Jackie Stewart wins the Dutch Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Germany to break Jim Clark's all-time record with 27 Grand Prix victories in his career. Those proved to be the last victories of his career and led to his final world title.

September 15
The Muhammad Ali wins his rematch with Ken Norton rematch in 12 rounds.

November 10
Triple Crown winner Secretariat's final race from Toronto.

November 10
Evel Knievel jumps over 50 smashed cars in the Coliseum in Los Angeles, landing perfectly and continuing up and through the parastyle and out of the stadium.


January 6
The Harlem Globetrotters in London.

January 26
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier scuffle during the telecast as they watch tape of their first fight in 1971.

February 9
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships features Dorothy Hamill winning the first of three national titles.

February 17
Evel Knievel jumps 11 Mack trucks in Highland Falls, Texas. The show, which also included the National Finals Rodeo, still ranks as the fourth highest rated show in Wide World of Sports history.

March 2
Muhammad Ali defeats Joe Frazier in their second fight in New York City.

March 16
Roberto Duran knocks out Estaban DeJesus in the 11th round to retain his World Lightweight championship from Panama City, Panama. Duran was knocked down by DeJesus in the first round but came back to knock out the Puerto Rican.

March 17
Wide World of Sports coverage of the World Figure Skating Championships from Munich features one of the greatest non-winning performances in the history of the show. Dorothy Hamill stepped on the ice for her free program, but the crowd was still booing the marks that the previous skater received. Thinking the crowd was booing her, Hamill broke into tears, but she regained her composure and skated one of the most inspired performances of her career to win the silver medal.

March 31
George Foreman scores a second-round TKO of Ken Norton in a World Heavyweight Championship fight.

April 7
Oxford-Cambridge Regatta.

August 31
The constant variety of WWOS: Evel Knievel Daredevil Motorcycle Jump in Toronto and Philippe Petit High Wire Walk from New York. Petit walked between the towers of the World Trade Center. He was arrested and sentenced to entertain people in Central Park.

September 14
Evel Knievel attempts to jump the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho in a machine called a skycycle in front of 33,000 fans. The parachute opened prematurely and Evel crashed into the canyon wall and had to be pulled out of the water.

September 21
Wide World of Sports returns to Havana, Cuba for the World Boxing Championships, which featured the great Teofilo Stevenson.


January 5
Muhammad Ali knocks out George Foreman in the eighth round to reclaim the World Heavyweight title from Kinshasa, Zaire. This still ranks as the second highest rated show in Wide World of Sports history.

January 19
Philippe Petit High Wire Walk between the two towers of the cathedral in Laon, France.

March 29
Muhammad Ali scores a 15th-round TKO of Chuck Wepner in their World Heavyweight Championship fight.

May 31
Evel Knievel's attempt to jump 140 feet over 13 double-deck buses in Wembley Stadium in London ends in failure when he's thrown off his bike on the landing ramp and has the motorcycle land on top of him. Evel suffered a broken pelvis and other injuries, but walks out of the stadium with the help of our own Frank Gifford.

June 28 & August 9
Wide World of Sports' first look at a future star -- Nadia Comaneci. The Romanian won the all-around and three of four individual apparatus finals at the European Women's Gymnastics Championships in Skien, Norway.

July 26
Coverage of the North American Continental Boxing Championships features a young Sugar Ray Leonard in the first of many appearances on Wide World of Sports. Keith Jackson calls him a young boxer to watch.

July 26
First Wide World of Sports coverage of the Tour de France.

August 16
Coverage of John Walker's world mile record of 3:49.4 in Goteborg, Sweden, making him the first to break the 3:50 barrier.

September 13
World Heavyweight Championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

October 4
The National Drag Racing Championships features a great battle between "Big Daddy" and "Cha Cha", with the former getting the victory in the final and a kiss from the latter. For those of you who don't know, those folks are Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney.

October 25
Evel Knievel jumps for the first time since his crash in Wembley Stadium and clears 15 Greyhound buses. The show, from King's Mill, Ohio, still ranks as the highest rated show in the history of Wide World of Sports.


January 1
Olga Korbut and the USSR Gymnasts Team visit Disneyland.

January 11
Wide World of Sports telecasts tape of Muhammad Ali defeating Joe Frazier in the "Thriller in Manilla" heavyweight title fight. Ali won the fight when Frazier didn't answer the bell for the 14th round. Afterwards, Ali said it was the "closest to death I've ever been". He said he hit Frazier with punches that would crumble walls, but he wouldn't go down. The show is the third highest rated in the history of Wide World of Sports.

January 25
Harlem Globetrotters play at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. Howard Cosell interviews prisoners and guards during the broadcast. The telecast came just five years after 10 hostages and 32 prisoners were killed after prisoners took over part of the prison in a September 1971 siege.

February 29
USA-Romania gymnastics featuring Nadia Comaneci.

March 7
At the World Figure Skating Championships in Goteborg, Sweden, Dorothy Hamill wins the first and only world championship of her career, while in the same show Soviet greats Ludmilla Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov win their sixth. Hamill, of course, had earlier won the gold medal at the Olympic Games.

March 21
Dorothy Hamill parade in Greenwich, Conn. There are many stories in the annals of Wide World of Sports, but this is one of the greatest: when the ABC crew arrived at Dorothy's parents house the day of the parade, she had baked cookies for them.

March 28
The American Cup Gymnastics Championships features Nadia Comaneci, who scores the first perfect 10.0 ever in international competition in the floor exercise.

May 22
Dorothy Hamill's last amateur performance.

June 26
U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials from Eugene, Ore.

October 2
Exclusive Sports Illustrated still photographs of the Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton heavyweight fight and interviews with Ken Norton, Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

October 30
Evel Knievel's final jump on Wide World of Sports is over seven Greyhound buses in the Kingdome in Seattle. He completes the jump, but it really wasn't much. After the jump, he was interviewed by Frank Gifford during which he said he made some mistakes on the jump which proved why anyone on a motorcycle should wear a helmet.


January 2
Interview with Muhammad Ali

January 22
Profile of 16-year-old apprentice jockey Steve Cauthen.

January 23
The USA-People's Republic of China gymnastics meet from Peking marks the first time an American television network sports department was invited to mainland China. The show featured Jim McKay hitting a golf ball over the Great Wall of China.

February 5
Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner win the first of four consecutive national titles at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Hartford, Conn.

February 12
A special gymnastics competition from South Bend, Ind. features Olga Korbut and Nellie Kim and the USSR gymnastics team. That marked Olga's final competitive appearance on Wide World of Sports.

February 19
Coverage of the Mr. Universe contest and an interview with former Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appeared on Wide Word many times during his career.

March 5
Linda Fratianne wins the first of two world titles at the World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

May 7
Seattle Slew, who would go on to become the first Triple Crown winner in 29 years, won the Flamingo Stakes (March 26th) and the Wood Memorial (April 23rd) on his way to the Kentucky Derby title.

May 14
Sugar Ray Leonard defeats Willie Rodriguez in the second fight of his professional career and the first on Wide World of Sports.

July 2
USA-USSR Track and Field Meet from Sochi, USSR.

July 23
Arthur Ashe's report on Apartheid and sports in South Africa.

September 3
The USA-East Germany Swimming amd Diving Meet on Wide World of Sports featured the women's rivals from the 1976 Olympic Games. It also marked the only time WWOS ventured to the dark side of the Berlin Wall for a competition.

October 1
Pelé's farewell game between the club he started his career with, the Santos, and the club he finished his career with, the New York Cosmos. Pelé played half the game with each team and scored a goal. This was when he asked the crowd to repeat three words with him: "Love", "Love", "Love".

October 29
The ascent of mountain climber George Willig to the top of Eldorado Canyon in Eldorado Springs, Colo. marks the first time live coverage of a climb was presented on American television.


January 21
Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci performs at Madison Square Garden.

February 4 & 5
World Alpine Ski Championships from Garmisch, West Germany features Ingemar Stenmark winning the slalom and giant slalom and Anne-Marie Moser-Proell winning her second consecutive downhill.

February 12
The USA-Cuba Amateur boxing marks the first live telecast from Cuba since Castro came to power in 1959.

February 25
The Great Pool Shootout: a $15,000 match between Minnesota Fats and Willie Mosconi at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Mosconi won the nine-ball competition in three sets, 5-2, 5-3 and 5-2.

March 11
The World Figure Skating Championships in Ottawa features a gold medal for Charlie Tickner in the men's competition and a 10th and final gold medal in pairs for Irina Rodnina.

March 12 & April 2
Affirmed's first race as a 3-year-old and Alydar's victory in the Florida Derby. The two horses went on to run a classic series of races, with Affirmed winning the Triple Crown.

April 1
Olga Korbut's retirement ceremonies in Moscow.

April 22 & 23
George Willig's climb of Angel's Landing in Zion National Park almost ends a bit early when he falls on the way up, but he was able to complete the climb.

July 8
The USA-USSR Track and Field Meet from Berkeley. Simply one of the best track and field meets ever coming to you live from the greatest place in the world: the University of California.

August 26 & September 2
The World Swimming Championships from West Berlin features the temporary return to prominence of the American women led by Tracy Caulkins.

September 16
Mario Andretti clinches the world title at the Grand Prix of Italy in Monza. WWOS broadcast reports of his victories in Argentina (January 15), Belgium (May 21), France (July 8) and Holland (September 2). His victory in Italy, however, is tempered by the death of teammate and friend Ronnie Peterson, who crashed during the race and died overnight.

October 28
by Soviets Nikolai Andrianov and Elena Moukhina win the titles at the World All-Around Gymnastics Championships. The latter was paralyzed in a tumbling accident prior to the 1980 Olympic Games.


January 13
Kurt Thomas becomes the first American man to win a medal at the World Gymnastics Championships with a gold in the floor exercise in Strasbourg. Marcia Frederick becomes only the second American woman to win a medal and the first gold medalist with a victory in the uneven bars.

January 14
The fifth highest rated show in the history of Wide World of Sports, featuring the Harlem Globetrotters.

February 4
One of the great fights in the history of Wide World of Sports between Alexis Arguello and Alfredo Escalera for the WBC Super Featherweight title. Arguello retained his title with a 13th round knockout.

February 10
Spectacular Bid's first race as a 3-year-old in the Hutcheson Stakes.

March 4
American Olympic medal hopeful Phil Mahre breaks his leg during a World Cup giant slalom in Lake Placid. Less than a year later, he won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in the slalom.

March 17
With Rodnina and Zaitsez taking the year off to have their first child, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner become the first Americans to win the world pairs title in 29 years at the World Figure Skating Championships in Vienna, Austria.

March 18
The World Ski Flying Championships from Planica, Yugoslavia includes our first interview with Vinko Bogataj, with Doug Wilson handling the honors.

April 28
Wide World of Sports live coverage of George Willig's Devil's Tower climb in Wyoming: a free climb of Devil's Tower's 700-foot face.

May 13
Wide World of Sports coverage of the World Table Tennis Championships in Pyongyang, North Korea marks the first time an American television network sports department has been inside of North Korea.

June 9
Nadia Comaneci continues her return to greatness at the World Cup in Tokyo, putting behind her a poor performance at the 1978 World Championships. She scores two perfect 10.0s en route to the all-around title. Nadia may never have been better.

December 15
World All-Around Gymnastics Championships once again features a Soviet sweep by two of the all-time greats, Aleksandr Ditiatin and Nellie Kim. Ditiatin, who edged Kurt Thomas for the gold, went on to win the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games, while Kim was later suspended from judging by FIG for overscoring the Soviets at the 1990 World Cup.  HELP |  ADVERTISER INFO |  CONTACT US |  TOOLS |  SITE MAP
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