SHOWTIME Sports® veteran reporter Jim Gray was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on Sunday in Canastota, N.Y., joining former colleague and longtime SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING play-by-play announcer Steve Albert in receiving boxing’s most prestigious honor.
Gray and Albert became the fifth and sixth SHOWTIME Sports talent enshrined in the Hall of Fame since 2012. They join boxing analyst Al Bernstein (2012), ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. (2013), analyst and historian Steve Farhood (2017) and play-by-play announcer Barry Tompkins (2017).
In front of a large crowd that included close friends Mike Tyson, Don King, Deontay Wilder, Julius Irving, Jerry Richardson, Stedman Graham, Bob Costas and many others, the 59-year-old Southern California resident Gray reflected on 40-plus years of covering the sport of boxing. "My journey today has been an unlikely one,” Gray said during his induction speech. “The Boxing Hall of Fame immortalized all of these great fighters. So this magnificent honor comes with tremendous humility. How could this happen? I never took a punch."
Gray, who started with SHOWTIME in 1994, was honored with a Special Individual Achievement Emmy Award – he currently has 12 Emmy’s in total – in 1997 for his interview of Mike Tyson following the heavyweight's second loss to Evander Holyfield, the infamous “bite fight.” The National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association also named that interview the "Sports Broadcast Story of the Year." Additionally, the American Sportscasters Association has voted Gray "Sportscaster of the Year" in 1998 and ‘99.
Gray chose Tyson to introduce him on Sunday during the induction ceremony. "It's ironic,” said Gray. “The man who threatened to kill me in public is now inducting me into the Hall of Fame."
"This award is way, way overdue," an emotional Tyson said of his good friend. "I'm very proud of you. Well-deserved."
With this past weekend’s induction ceremony, SHOWTIME Sports now boasts five current Hall of Famers featured on the network: Gray, Bernstein, Farhood, Tompkins and Lennon Jr.
“I am so pleased for Jim and Steve that they received this great honor,” said David Dinkins Jr., Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of SHOWTIME Sports. “Jim Gray's interviews and reporting have been an integral part of our SHOWTIME telecast from the beginning. Because of his skills and instincts we have been able to cover the events in depth. There have been countless times that Jim’s dogged pursuit of a story has enabled us to paint the complete picture of the event.”
Gray has forged one of the most memorable sports broadcasting careers in recent history, which includes a deep boxing resume. Gray has worked more than 1,200 fights and interviewed over 1,500 fighters throughout his career, including 20 of his fellow Hall of Famers, such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and future Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and many others ringside.
Outside of the ring, Gray has covered nearly every sport and landed some of the industry’s most lucrative interviews, including sit-downs with Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady and Michael Jordan.
Albert spent two decades calling fights for SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING. Albert called more than 300 fights during his tenure with SHOWTIME, including Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Greg Haugen in front of 130,000 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Tyson-Holyfield I & II and the epic Corrales vs. Castillo series.
“Steve Albert's incredible preparation and perfect timing were the reasons for his memorable fight calls,” Dinkins said. “Steve was the voice of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING through the high profile fights of the Tyson and Chavez eras. He will be forever linked to those shows which helped establish our network as a major broadcaster of boxing.”
Both Gray and Albert earned induction into the Observer category, which recognizes outstanding achievements of print and media journalists, publishers, writers, historians, photographers and artists.