|Bernard Hopkins - Holding Back the Hands of Time
By Jason Petock (Oct 21, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Will Hart/HBO)
It has to be extremely difficult for Bernard Hopkins to not want to shove it in our faces just a little bit. He has always been public enemy number one in a way, with scores of critics and pundits continually analyzing his every move inside and outside the ring, demanding for his retirement, hoping for it. And this past Saturday they more than likely sat with their fingers and toes crossed once more, wishing that the old man would just crumble and fade away already. But he didn’t crumble; instead he thrived like a lone beacon in a sea of sharks, all biting and nipping at his base as he continues to float on successfully,
unscathed and all the more brilliant for it. He is a tactician, a modern example from the old school of boxing and its tenets. Not often do we get to see such a character these days as Hopkins and he seems to almost exist in the wrong era, mainly because several of us do not want to give him the credit he deserves in this one. No matter what B-Hop does effectively however, it is never enough for those who desire to see him fail, to see him fall. Bernard Hopkins is a Champion who refuses to fall and his career has been a testament to that fact.
Every time Bernard Hopkins chalks up another victory, I am always sitting at the other side of the table from those who oppose him, and it’s a nice seat to be in. I recognize the fighter and the man for what he is, a throwback, and a legend. How easy has it become for those who do not fight to pass judgment on someone who fights beyond required limits, beyond the expected duration of a boxer’s career? Too easy these days it seems. Journalists from the forties and even earlier used to revere and praise fighters for their accomplishments. Victories and even losses sometimes were heralded in the most positive of lights with good intentions and remarkable penmanship and skill. Boxers were heroes in those days, working class kids who grew up with a penchant for checking chins and reservations at the door. Bernard Hopkins is one of those working class kids, a pugilist who came from nothing to achieve everything in spite of the odds stacked forcefully against him.
Sadly, his latest victory will probably do little to calm his critics out there. You see with Hopkins it is never enough. Time and time again he defies our preconceived notions of what a boxer should be, act like, think like and perform like. He flips the script every chance he gets and he does it with fine paintbrush strokes of a seasoned artist on the blood stained canvas of his craft. He shuts you up with every movement, no matter how subtle or insignificant to your untrained and inexperienced eye it may seem, it is in fact poetry in motion. So try as you may to stop the Bernard Hopkins freight train from chugging forward, but you can’t and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Remember that when he did an interview for HBO he said that he really enjoys Frank Sinatra’s song, “I did it my way”. That song should be played during every Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins ring walk. Fitting indeed.
B-Hop’s other perceived enemy that has been far kinder to him than most of us have is time. Time was supposed to be such a huge factor in regard to Hopkins and his career. It actually hasn’t been, as much as everyone has wanted it to be, and that’s a good thing. Bernard has been doing something right for more years than he can count and if we were smart we would try and find out his secret to longevity, rather than try and poke holes in his balloon, praying that it would crash to the ground. He is an example of how to live and what to do in life. He is proof that anything is possible and the more society and your enemies tell you that you can’t do something, the more you will succeed and flourish in spite of their attacks and continual persecution.
For you see, it’s all been so obvious for Bernard Hopkins during his interesting and dynamic career thus far. Those against him pushed. He pushed back. They pushed a little more. He pushed even greater. Time pushed with all of its might and he held back the hands until they snapped off and the clock just didn’t work anymore. There are men half his age who couldn’t say that. So next time you point a finger, choose to instead look at yourself in the mirror and only wish that you could be like Bernard Hopkins at his age.
Because in all honesty, the odds are against it.
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