Bernard Hopkins: historic run ignored ‘because I’m black’
Bernard Hopkins has yet again addressed race as it pertains to boxing, stating most recently that his pursuit of history has not received more media attention outside of boxing because he is black.
Already the oldest man to both win a major title – he’s done that twice – as well as the oldest to unify, Hopkins, 49, will put his IBF and WBA light heavyweight titles on the line against WBO counterpart Sergey Kovalev on Saturday in an HBO-televised fight from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Hopkins threw down the gauntlet before the start of a media workout at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym in his native Philadelphia, according to ESPN.com.
“[It’s] because I’m black. What do you think if my name was Augustine, Herzenstein, Stern? Cappello? Marciano? Don’t you understand the conflict of interest? If I was any of those names of any other background, I’d be on every billboard and every milk carton and every place to be,” said Hopkins, according to ESPN.com.
“If we’re talking ‘American Dream,’ here’s a guy who almost threw his life away and he took this great country’s great attributes and used it — do for self, work hard and be a law-abiding citizen. I’ve done that for 26 years.”
It is not the first time that Hopkins has discussed his opinions on race and boxing.
During an interview with RingTV.com last October, Hopkins stated that it is “a curse to be slick” in boxing nowadays and that the sport appears to frown on the concept of skill that he attributes to African-American fighters in favor of a more “barbaric” standard.
“The great Sugar Ray Leonard, right now, if he was boxing, they way that they want you to fight, the people that pull the strings of the puppet, he would be boring today. Ray Robinson – the great Robinson – would be boring today…people criticize Floyd Mayweather because of his offense and defense – and mainly his defense,” said Hopkins, back in October 2013.
“I’m one of the most underrated, defensive fighters since the early years of James Toney at middleweight. That’s why I can talk to you and everybody on this phone that is listening without stuttering. That’s important to me to go to my daughter’s school or my son’s school and talk to their teacher without embarassing themÔÇªthat’s important to me.”
Prior to Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous decision over Shane Mosley in May 2007, Hopkins had asserted that Pacquiao had not yet been challenged by an African-American fighter with elusive skills.
At the time, Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum agreed.
“That was true, at the time,” said Arum of Pacquiao, who had wins over African fighters Lehlo Ledwaba and Joshua Clottey. “It was true. He hadn’t fought a slick guy. The only black guy he had fought were the Africans. You can’t make that criticism of Manny anymore.”
Pacquiao has since split victories with Tim Bradley, who is black.
A former Philadelphia street thug, Hopkins had survived two stabbings by the age of 17, when he was jailed for five years in Pennsylvania’s Graterford Prison. Hopkins was released in 1988 at the age of 22.
After winning the vacant IBF middleweight title by seventh-round knockout over Segundo Mercado on April 29, 1995, Hopkins went on to defend it a record 20 times before losing to Jermain Taylor by a split decision on July 16, 2005.
“If you really look at it, I have done the ‘American Dream’ that people have died on boats to come here to live,” Hopkins said. “I have done all of that and then you look back and say, ‘Wait a minute; what’s wrong here?’ A lot of people are not bold to say it but I am.”