Advertisement
Advertisement

Bernard Hopkins Always Gets The Last Word

By Thomas Gerbasi

Back when he was a spry young man of 48, I interviewed Bernard Hopkins for Newsweek’s TheDailyBeast.com and wondered why his remarkable feats weren’t more celebrated by the mainstream media.

His response – and you know he had one – went like this:

“My personal feeling is that Bernard Hopkins has never been an industry boy. They’d rather talk about Lance Armstrong, who fooled all of them, got millions of dollars, and doped up for the last ten years and admitted it. Then you’ve got a Bernard Hopkins. You can take my stool, you can take my urine, you can watch me consume food, you can do anything you want to do; my story don’t mean nothing to them because I’m not the right person that they want to promote and push forward.”

He’s right, and that’s unfortunate, because we won’t see the likes of “The Executioner” or “The Alien” or whatever he’s being called these days, ever again.

Forget the part that says someone with Hopkins’ genetics and ability to laugh at Father Time only comes along once a generation, if that. In this day and age, and at 45, I hate to be “that guy” who talks about how things have gotten worse in the world as I’ve grown older, no one will a) want to fight as long as Hopkins has, and b) will want to work as hard as he has.

Think about it – when you bring up the topic of fighters with a Spartan work ethic, what names pop into your head immediately? If you’ve been paying attention over the years, it should be Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather. But Mayweather won’t fight until he’s 49, and who can blame him? Hopkins has though, and as he approaches his 64th professional fight against Beibut Shumenov this Saturday in Washington, D.C., he says he’s doing it for the history books, but I think he’s doing it because no one has been able to make him stop.

He’s never been knocked out, never took a punishing beating in the ring, and he’s been successful at an age where most fighters are into their second decade of retirement. He said last year that the reason was simple.

“The majority of fighters and athletes live double lives. I don’t drink, I don’t party, I don’t stay out late at night, I don’t have three, four, five girlfriends. That’s wear and tear, that’s a candle burning on both ends. What got me here was not my talent, per se. My lifestyle gave me longevity, genetics gave me longevity.”

Back in 2004, before the second fight that took him to a new level of public acceptance against Oscar De La Hoya (the first was his 2001 win over Felix Trinidad), I had the opportunity to spend the day in the gym he worked out of in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Calling it a no frills gym would be exaggerating matters, but it was the type of atmosphere he thrived in.

Hopkins’ then-trainer, the late Bouie Fisher, told me of the place, “This is the type of gym where guys really learn how to fight, and they learn the craft real well.” 

For Hopkins though, it was more than that because it was a place that reminded him of where he came from and gave him no indication of where he was at in terms of finances, public acclaim, or the boxing world. Here, he was just another hungry fighter in search of better days.

“There are a lot of benefits,” he said.  “No silk pajamas or drawers, no marble in the bathroom.”

And despite it being late summer, there was no air conditioning either.
 
“If there was we would tear it out of the windows,” Hopkins smiled, pleased to bring an outsider into his world to show them how he did what he did and why you couldn’t.

Hopkins was 39 at the time, and while most expected him to beat De La Hoya (and he did), if you said that a decade later he would still be plying his trade, not as a beat-up pug scraping for a final big payday, but as one of the sport’s biggest stars and a world champion, you would have been looked at as if you were crazy. Hopkins believed though, and it may be because he never changed at 49 what he did at 39 and at 29.

Sure, the story is great – ex-con stays on the straight and narrow, fights his way up the ranks, battles the system, and becomes one of the greatest fighters of all-time. And unlike many stories in this game, it’s all true, no embellishment necessary. Yet the real story of Bernard Hopkins isn’t as sexy. It won’t make headlines because how he really got here isn’t the type of stuff people want to hear about. Being in the gym days after a 12-round fight doesn’t get a lot of web page hits. Spending hours, days, and weeks in the gym instead of Tweeting and posting selfies on Instagram doesn’t do the trick either.

The world loves flash, the world loves instant gratification, and Bernard Hopkins gives none of that. He is the living embodiment of slow and steady wins the race, and it’s precisely why he hasn’t received the attention the flashy Mayweather gets or that the King of Instant Gratification – a prime Mike Tyson – got. If it bothers him, it should, but like they say of all great artists, they’re not truly appreciated until they’re gone.

And in a world that celebrates the flash in the pan, it reminds me of a story he told me in that Upper Darby PAL gym back in 2004.

“There’s four cows at the end and I’m on the mountain,” said Hopkins.  “I could do two things: I could storm down there because I’m excited and this is the chance to go down there and get ‘em, or I can go ahead and walk down there.  In the end, I’m gonna have the last word.  And I’m gonna have it.  Why run down there when you can walk down there and F’ all of them?  But if you run down there, you know what happens when they see you running down the hill?  They’ll scatter.  So you tiptoe down there.”

Ten years later, Bernard Hopkins is still getting the last word.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by b morph on 04-18-2014

Hopkins doesn't get the kind of praise he rightfully deserves. You will never see another kind of fighter like Hopkins ever again. The way he's done it is what makes it remarkable, with no breaks and no time off. Its…

Comment by cupocity303 on 04-18-2014

[SIZE="3"]Good article btw. It doesn't deserve the kind retarded responses that it did by a few of our NSB "Geniuses".[/SIZE]

Comment by cupocity303 on 04-18-2014

[QUOTE=ShoulderRoll;14439369]Adrien Broner could learn a lot from Hopkins.[/QUOTE] [SIZE="3"]Here is something for Broner:[/SIZE]

Comment by sugarsmosley_ on 04-18-2014

[QUOTE=nycsmooth;14440118]in the photo he looks 65 @ least...an over rated guy now that cherry picks & if a generation or 2 or 3 would have lost 2 Mike Spinks, the great Monzon( he would've ko'd Hagler) and Bob Foster would…

Comment by ИATAS on 04-18-2014

[QUOTE=nycsmooth;14440118]in the photo he looks 65 @ least...an over rated guy now that cherry picks & if a generation or 2 or 3 would have lost 2 Mike Spinks, the great Monzon( he would've ko'd Hagler) and Bob Foster would…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (13)
Top Headlines Video: Abel Sanchez on Brook, Andre Ward, 160 Landscape Video: Loeffler Talks Brook-Golovkin, Jacobs, Carl Froch, More Video: Gennady Golovkin Talks Kell Brook, Unification, More Video: Roman Gonzalez Talks Cuadras Clash, Training Camp LaRon Mitchell Expects Tough Fight With Mario Heredia Luis Ortiz Brushes Off Golden Boy Split, Vows To Batter Ustinov Video: Gennady Golovkin Putting in Work For Kell Brook Fight Gervonta Davis, Floyd Mayweather at Odds, Sosa Bout in Doubt? Errol Spence Over The Moon With MONSTER Rating of 6 Million Liam Smith Warns: I'm Coming in There To Knock Canelo Out! Orlando Salido vs. Takashi Miura Showdown in The Works Eddie Ramirez-Kevin Watts Top FS1 on PBC, September 13 Luis Ortiz, Golden Boy Promotions Officially Part Ways Lemieux vs. Stevens Still Being Worked on, Says Golden Boy VP Jessie Vargas Reflects on The Kell Brook Fight Falling Out Saunders Trashes Eubank Jr. and His Father: Stop Talking Sh*t! Kell Brook: I'm Not Done With 147, I'd Fight Errol Spence! Del Valle Vows To Take The Fight To De La Hoya on Canelo-Smith Luke Campbell vs. Derry Mathews Set For October 15 Margarito Still Aiming For Canelo, Major Opponent in The Fall Kovalev's Coach: Ward's Lack of Power Will Be Biggest Drawback Eubank Frustrated: Golovkin is Running Scared, He Lost Respect! Eduard Troyanovsky-Keita Obara Card Coming Together For 9/9 Nicola Adams To Ponder Next Career Move, Will She Go Pro? Dereck Chisora: I Want Pulev Rematch, I'm Ready To Face Anyone Rio Team Summary: Uzbekistan Tops Cuba, Makes HUGE Splash Cameron Hammond: Commonwealth Shot Is Career Launchpad Deontay Wilder's Manager: The Goal is Still To Unify The Division McCullough Pleads With Amir Khan To Avoid McGregor Disaster Tony Yoka, Estelle Mossely Hailed By France as The Golden Couple Big Fights on The Horizon Generate Pound For Pound Sentiments Froch Smiles, Explains Why Golovkin is NOT a Top 5 P4P Fighter Video: Jessie Vargas Breaks Down Manny Pacquiao Clash Spence-Bundu Bout Draws PBC Network-Record 6 Million Viewers Gilberto Ramirez To Get Hand Evaluated, Aims For Fall Defense Photos: Caleb Plant, Juan De Angel Ready For PBC Clash Drozd: Brook Has No Shot To Beat Golovkin, But Canelo Does! U.S. Team Hopes Shields Will Stay For 2020 Olympics in Tokyo Amir Khan To Conor McGregor: Call Me, We Need To Talk! Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker Will Be Ordered on November 9
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement