Sports announcer Don Dunphy, one of the leading voices of boxing in America for 40 years, died of heart failure July 22 at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, N.Y. Dunphy, a resident of Manhasset, N.Y., was 90.
Recognizable by his nasal voice and staccato style, Dunphy called more than 2,000 fights over the course of his career, 200 of them title bouts including 50 for the heavyweight championship.
His first major title fight — and one of his most famous broadcasts — was 1941’s heavyweight fight between Joe Louis and Billy Conn; his last was 1981’s welterweight bout between Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.
Dunphy broadcast Muhammad Ali’s first TV bout in 1961 and his last in 1981. In between he called the Ali-George Forman fight in Zaire in 1974, and the three epic Ali-Joe Frazier bouts, including their 1971 fight in Madison Square Garden, labeled by Dunphy as “the greatest event in sports history.”
He was born in New York on July 5, 1908 and attended Manhattan College. He began his broadcasting career on local stations, doing football and minor league baseball games and hosting a boxing talkshow.
He called his first fight in 1939, and he became famous nationally in 1941 when Gillette tapped him to announce its Friday night fights. He would call the fights on radio for 19 years.
In 1960 Dunphy made the move to television, calling fights for ABC. He retired from network television in the ’70s, but remained in demand for high-profile, closed-circuit bouts. Throughout his career, Dunphy broadcast a variety of other sports outside of boxing, including baseball, horse racing, basketball and football.
He appeared in six films — always as a boxing announcer — including Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull” in 1980. His autobiography, published in 1988, was titled “Don Dunphy at Ringside.”
Dunphy is survived by his wife of 56 years, Muriel, two sons and five grandchildren.