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CNN’s First Sports Anchor, Nick Charles Dead at 64

A CNN original and its first sports anchor, Nick Charles died today after a two-year battle with bladder cancer. Charles began at CNN on the network’s first day, June 1, 1980, and covered nearly every sporting event over the years.

He was paired with Fred Hickman for most of the next 17 years on “Sports Tonight.” Charles and Hickman remain one of the longest-lasting anchor duos in television. CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton released this statement:

As a journalist and sports personality, Nick Charles helped put CNN on the map in its early days. He brought intelligence, style and heart to his work–qualities that translated to our company and inspired those of us who were fortunate to work alongside him. His passing is a loss to CNN, to the sports world and to the fans and friends everywhere who were with him to the end of his extraordinary life. Like them, our thoughts today are of Nick and with his family.

After leaving CNN, Charles continued sports coverage as a boxing announcer for Showtime and Versus. He called his final fight on HBO in March. In April, CNN produced this very poignant piece with Charles reflecting on his life and career.

Nick Charles was 64. Charles’ wife Cory also works for CNN as senior director of guest planning for CNN International.

Walton’s note to staff, after the jump…

With great sadness I send this to inform you our friend and former colleague Nick Charles died this morning.

As you may know, Nick had been ill for some time. He was public and extraordinarily generous with the story of his health struggles in recent months, notably in conversations with Sanjay Gupta for his show and a recent profile by Wayne Drash for CNN.com.

As a journalist and sports personality, Nick helped put CNN on the map in its early days. He brought intelligence, style and heart to his work–qualities that translated to our company and inspired those of us who worked alongside him. You’ll see some of that work in remembrances over the coming days.

We will share information on arrangements when we receive it. Our thoughts now are with Cory, Nick’s wife and our CNN colleague, his four children and the Charles family. Their loss is also a loss to CNN, to the sports world and to those of us who were proud and fortunate to call him friend.

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