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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 08:51 GMT
Q&A: Sir Henry Cooper
As the 50th anniversary of BBC Sports Personality of the Year approaches, past winners share their memories.


Sir Henry Cooper (boxing)
Sports Personality 1967 and 1970

What do you remember about the night you won?

I had been going to the Sports Review of the Year, as it was called then, since the early 50s after I turned professional so I had begun to think that maybe I was never going to win it.

I had also been British heavyweight champion for a few years before I actually won it, so you can imagine how delighted I was when I eventually picked up the award.

And as if that wasn't enough, I won it again three years later!

How high does winning Sports Personality of the Year rate when you look back over your career?

Henry Cooper
Sir Henry Cooper features on Simply the Best, BBC 1,
1900-1930 GMT, Thu 11 Dec

I rate the Sports Personality award very highly because it is voted for by the public and in those days, there weren't so many television channels to choose from so you knew that most people were watching the BBC.

I think there must have been about eight or nine million people watching. It was lovely and it is a marvellous compliment to be paid.

I had a great career, over 17 years, and the Sports Review of the Year was a really important part of that.

In fact, I signed my first professional contract with Jim Wicks live on the BBC in 1954.

How did you celebrate afterwards?

We always stayed in the studio where they had a party afterwards. Everyone used to stay on and it was always good fun.

I used to enjoy meeting people from other sports and it was a real honour to be among all those famous names.

Where do you keep your awards?

DID YOU KNOW?
Cooper was the first person to win the award twice - only Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell have done since
I'm sorry to say they are in a packing case in my loft, the reason being that we have just moved to a smaller house so we don't have any room to display them.

But they are safely wrapped up and when we're not around anymore, I'm sure the kids will have some fun looking at them all.

Who do you consider the all-time Sports Personality?

That's a tough one. Even though he never actually won it, I think Roger Bannister would get my vote for breaking the four-minute mile.

But from past winners, I would pick Sir Steve Redgrave for his five Olympic gold medals. He is an incredible athlete.


Sir Henry Cooper was speaking to Caroline Cheese





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