Bernard Hopkins: An Inspiration In the Ring and Out

Howard Goldin

On April 19, at the age of 49 years and 3 months IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion  Bernard Hopkins will step in the ring at the DC Armory in an attempt to add the WBA and IBA world  titles, currently held by  Beibut Shumanov, to his possession.

Hopkins is a rare athlete who has not yet allowed the passage of years to diminish his skills. At a pre-fight press conference at BB King’s on 42nd Street in New York City on Wednesday, Hopkins articulately spoke of the enemy of all mortals, “Father time is undefeated. I can’t beat him.”

While both champions, Hopkins and Shumanov, have confidence of being victorious in the upcoming bout, neither resorted to the too often heard “trash talking” of their opponent in the pre-fight build up Shumanov, a 30 year-old from Kazakhstan with only 15 pro fights, gave full credit to the capabilities of his 19 year older ring opponent, “Bernard Hopkins is a genius, a boxing legend with the highest boxing I.Q.”

Hopkins praised the younger boxer for having the ability to be on “the fast track’ of earning a world title {IBA} before his tenth pro bout. He also complimented Shumanov for accepting the fight because “Nobody’s kicking in the door to fight Bernard Hopkins.” “The Alien”, a term Hopkins uses to describe himself for his ability to withstand the effects of aging, has twice become the oldest boxer to capture a world title, and will next month attempt to become the oldest to unify a championship.

He said on Wednesday, “After April 19, there’s a realistic possibility of a unification of all the [light heavyweight] titles.”
Even these ring accomplishments have not motivated Hopkins to magnify his self-perception as a boxer, “I may not be the best fighter and I’m not saying I’m, but I am the most hard-working, dedicated and disciplined. I never ducked anyone.”

Hopkins’s rare advanced age for a pugilist has given him prominence beyond his sport. He wishes to use his fame to benefit both the quality of life of all people as well as their longevity. On Wednesday, he remarked, “I want you to be inspired, whether you root for me or not. Don’t be envious, be motivated, be energized. It’s never too late to change your lifestyle.”

The above is a goal he has spoken about previously, ‘I want to become the spokesperson for the 40+ older crowd, inspiring people to believe that no matter what age they are, they can be healthy and active and save their lives.”

Also at the press conference was the 30 year-old WBO World Middleweight Champion, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillen, who looks upon Hopkins as a role model and mentor. Of Hopkins, he said, “He gave inspiration to a lot of guys who are older that they can do things.” Quillen will be in the co-main event on April 30 as he defends his title against Lucas Konecky.

Quillen used words similar to those of Hopkins to speak about himself as a pro boxer, “I make a lot of effort to be the best I can be, best fighter, best husband, best son. I sacrifice myself every day to be an inspiration.”