05/09/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
What a knockout!" isn't just boxing lingo around the first female host of ABC's venerable Wide World of Sports. Yet the Georgia-born jaw dropper knows her hoops from her hoop earrings. "Some people used to think I didn't know anything because of my looks," says Julie Moran, 32. "Very quickly that notion was dispelled."
In fact, jock talk comes naturally to the former track and basketball star, who "grew up a tomboy with long arms and legs" and hit 5'10" by the time she was 12. Trading sweatband for headset at the University of Georgia, where she majored in broadcast journalism, Moran broke into TV by interviewing players at football games. "There was wind and rain and my mascara would run," she recalls. "But you can't powder your nose in front of 80,000 people." She went onto do sideline reporting for CBS and ESPN before landing a cable movie-chat show in Los Angeles with late-night wise-guy Greg Kinnear, who says, "Necks break and vertebrae dislodge whenever Julie struts down the street." Similarly impressed, NBC teamed her with ex-jock Ahmad Rashad on the popular NBA Inside Stuff. Later at ABC, Moran covered college football and figure skating before landing her groundbreaking spot on Wide World (she replaced Frank Gifford), where male athletes accept her with little fuss. "I've been really lucky," observes Moran. "I've encountered no resistance." Now settled in New York City with husband Rob, 33, an actor she married in 1987, Moran maintains her perfect glow via an old family secret. "My grandmother taught me to use the oldest, roughest washcloth I could find on my face," says Moran.
"It keeps your skin beautiful forever."