PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 15, 2015) – Boxing legend Bernard Hopkins is known by many names – “The Executioner,” “The Alien” and “B-Hop” to name a few. Beginning today, he will have yet another moniker – “50-year-old.”
This is an important milestone in the life of the future Hall of Famer. He is celebrating a birthday that for most athletes comes long after their retirement. It is remarkable that he is not only still active, but just months removed from fighting at the very pinnacle of his sport.
Hopkins is a surefire first ballot addition to the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) when he becomes eligible. His decade-long run as world champion, combined with unifying all of the belts in the division, gives him a claim to being the greatest middleweight of all time. The fact that he put together a second-career that saw him unify light heavyweight titles lends credence to Hopkins’ claims that he is “not of this world.”
“I come from an old school of boxing where you fight the best out there and prove yourself,” said Hopkins. “I want to be an example for the young fighters coming up that in order to be successful in the sport, you have to protect yourself at all times. That means in and out of the ring. I’ve been able to do that as I am still fighting while also celebrating my 50th birthday. This is my testament to success.”
Throughout his career Hopkins never backed down from facing the best. His fight-by-fight reads like a who’s who of Hall of Famers, world champions and top-flight boxers. Hopkins faced all three fighters inducted into the IBHOF in 2014, having beaten Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad and dropping a decision to Joe Calzaghe. He holds multiple records for his run at middleweight, including the longest reign as world champion (10 years, two months and 17 days) and for the most consecutive title defenses (20).
At light heavyweight and into his forties he continued to make history. In May 2011, Hopkins defeated Jean Pascal for the WBC Light Heavyweight World Championship, passing George Foreman as the oldest boxer to ever win a world title (46 years, four months and six days).
He broke his own record two years later when he defeated Tavoris Cloud for the IBF Light Heavyweight World Championship (48 years, one month and 22 days). In 2014 he set another record as he became the oldest fighter to unify world titles when he defeated Beibut Shumenov to add the WBA Light Heavyweight World Championship to his IBF crown.
“No one can deny the legacy that I’ve created in this sport. I am really proud of what I did, who I fought, how I matured along the way. I feel really good about something no one can take away or deny my place in the sports’ history,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins’ does hope to leave a legacy beyond the sport of boxing, specifically as a pillar of health and fitness for the African-American community and the over-40 crowd. Both of Hopkins’ parents passed away before the age of 50, due to complications of diabetes and heart disease. This has led the champ on his crusade for clean living that gives him satisfaction in the organic foods that he cooks himself.
“We only live once and our bodies are our temples. I am not going to eat something that is not good for my system,” said Hopkins. “I fuel myself with energy producing foods. Without this daily habit my body would have given up on me a long time ago.”
Hopkins has also long fought for the rights of his fellow boxers. Famously testifying before Congress in support of the Muhammad Ali act. In 2014, Hopkins appeared at the United States Capitol building to help raise the profile of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health’s comprehensive study of professional boxers and the effect their sport has on their brain.
In the last decade, Hopkins has been contributing to the sport as a promoter. Since his 2005 middleweight title unification bout with Oscar De La Hoya, Hopkins and “The Golden Boy” have formed a partnership with Hopkins owning a percentage of Golden Boy Promotions and helping promote their fights all over the country.
On January 20th, Golden Boy will honor Hopkins’ 50th birthday with a special edition of Golden Boy Live! on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes live from the 2300 Arena in Hopkins’ hometown of Philadelphia. Philly’s own Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter will headline the night of fights. He will take on Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado in a 10-round featherweight bout.
“I believe in investing in this sport and that means stepping up to the plate as an athlete and as a promoter,” said Hopkins. “I have an opportunity and a responsibility to the fighters and the fans to make this sport the best it can be.”
Whether you admire him for his work inside the ring, or the way he lives his life outside, there is no denying that Hopkins is one-of-a-kind. When he eventually leaves the sport it will be bittersweet, as he once said:
“Enjoy this while you can. Don’t worry about when or how I’m going to leave or break down. You guys are all humans, I understand you, but you don’t understand me.”
Wish Bernard a ‘Happy Birthday’ on Twitter @TheRealBHop and use the hashtag #BHOP50.