ABC7’s Rob Fukuzaki was inducted into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame on Jan. 25.
The special ceremony took place at the Lakeside Country Club in Toluca Lake, where Fukuzaki was honored for his distinguished achievement in sports broadcasting.
In true “Rob form,” he thanked others for getting him to where he is today, including his parents.
Born in Torrance, Fukuzaki moved with his family to Honolulu when he was 3 years old. He attended Mid-Pacific Institute, a private high school in Honolulu, and graduated in 1984.
He returned to Southern California to study broadcast journalism, with an emphasis in radio and television, at the University of LaVerne, where he was named Broadcaster of the Year in 1986, 1987 and 1988. He also won several awards from the Southern California Broadcast Journalism Society.
After graduating in 1988, he returned to Hawaii, where he worked for Top 40 radio station KXPW. In 1989, he began working part-time for KITV doing sports reporting. He got a full-time slot later that year, working as weekday sports reporter and weekend anchor.
One of his memorable assignments at KITV was an award-winning hour-long special on sumo in Japan. The broadcast featured the three top-ranked wrestlers from Hawaii, including grand champions Akebono and Musashimaru.
Fukuzaki started at ABC7 in 1994, and as ABC7 President and General Manager Cheryl Fair recalled, he looked like a 15-year-old kid with the beautiful booming voice of a 50-year-old man. He was the first male Japanese American anchor to work in Los Angeles local television news.
He has gone on to cover some of the biggest sports stories, including Super Bowls, NBA championships, college football championships, and much more, in addition to hosting the post-game show “Sports Zone.”
As a singer, Fukuzaki has written and recorded tributes for legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and former Dodgers star Raul Mondesi.
With as much as he’s accomplished in the sports broadcasting world, Fukuzaki is also proud of his work with the Heads Up Youth Foundation, of which he is the chairman. He founded the organization with friends and family in 1997 to assist disadvantaged youths in the Southland through sports programs.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame were Jim Fox, who is in his 26th season as the L.A. Kings’ television commentator and spent his entire 10-year career as a member of the Kings, reaching ninth on their all-time scoring list; and the late Joe McDonnell, a long-time sports talk show host who worked at more than a dozen local radio stations, including KMPC and KFI, and was known for getting scoops and exclusives among some of L.A.’s most famous athletes.
Past inductees include Fred Roggin (2014), Chris Roberts (2012), Jim Hill (2010), Tom Kelly (2005), Stu Nahan (2001), Chick Hearn (1999), Dick Enberg (1998), Gil Stratton (1998) and Don Drysdale (1998).
The President’s Award went to Ann Meyers Drysdale, widow of Dodger great Don Drysdale, a four-time basketball All-American at UCLA, and commentator for the Indiana Packers. She has worked for NBC, CBS and ESPN while holding several executive positions in professional basketball.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Tommy Hawkins, basketball star at Notre Dame and with the Lakers, sportscaster, sports executive, jazz DJ, poet, and professional public speaker. He spent 15 years as sports director and talk show host at KABC-AM and 18 years as vice president of communications for the Dodgers.
Fukuzaki said in a Facebook post, “This is truly an incredible honor I am so humbled to receive. When I got the call in August that I was going to be one of the newest inductees into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame, I was first of all stunned and in disbelief, thinking there must be some sort of mistake.
“To be joining the company of so many legends and heroes who were inspirations and influences to me to get into this industry, I don’t feel worthy but will forever be grateful first of all to the man upstairs. I thank the Good Lord for all of his blessings.
“This journey wouldn’t be possible without the great love, guidance, enormous support of my parents. I owe them everything. If there were a Hall of Fame for parents, they would be a unanimous first ballot. This honor is a dedication as tribute to my mom and dad.
“My wife Sharil has been my best friend and backbone over the last several years and I thank her for her understanding as well. Not easy dealing with my hours.
“I’m so grateful to all my family and friends who have always had my back and been there for me, along with my University of LaVerne family, who not only educated me but really prepared me for the working world.
“And, of course I, will always be so grateful to ABC7. Back in 1994 then News Director Cheryl Fair and President and GM Alan Nesbit gave me the opportunity taking a chance on a 27-year-old who looked like he was 17. And over the years I continue to appreciate the opportunity and am always grateful to the viewers and community for their support.”