Hopkins Declines Revisiting His “Race” Comments

There was an elephant in the room at Gleason’s Gym on Tuesday, and I asked Bernard Hopkins, semi-obliquely, about it, about the race comments he made the other day to ESPN.com’s Brian Campbell.

The “youngest old man in sports” didn’t wish to revisit the topic, when I queried him, as he was shadow boxing and doing mitt work at Gleason’s Gym during a workout for media on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of his Saturday clash against 31-year-old power puncher Sergey Kovalev.

Is the mainstream media giving you the respect you deserve, I asked Hopkins, referencing his statement that he thinks if he were not black, he’d be bigger.

“It’s because I’m black,” the all-time great, a physical and mental marvel, told ESPN.

On Tuesday, he didn’t want to go there; “I already talked about it,” he said.

Hopkins said that he will back up what he said to ESPN on Nov. 8, and that he wanted to put the issue out there, for us to digest. He said that he wanted to put it out there, let it rest, and then let us decide again after he’s performed how he thinks he will, against yet another young bomber. He admitted he raised the stakes with his race comment, and knows there will be more pressure on him to perform.

Say this for the man, he is unafraid to touch that third rail, to bring up up verboten subjects, to ask questions which cast him in a less than cuddly light.

Forum folks, talk to me. Many if not most smart people I talk to disagree with Hopkins, and cite Floyd Mayweather making $33 million a fight as evidence that the color of the skin doesn’t influence his popularity, or lack thereof. I maintain that most assignment editors are Caucasian, and give extra love to their own tribe. What say you?

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COMMENTS

-The Shadow :

It's not that black and white, no pun intended. Besides, there's no such thing as race anyway; there are ethnicities, unless you're talking homo sapiens vs. canis lupus familiaris. As to what Hopkins said, your ethnicity is one part of the total sum. Sure, Mayweather makes a ton of money and, yes, him being black is undoubtedly a big part of the equation. Remember, Mayweather doesn't make all this money because he's universally beloved. Like The Good Doc said, it is only natural to support your own. Heck, that's the economic foundation of boxing! But if you're likable or can get beyond that, then it doesn't matter who you are. Manny Pacquiao, an Asian, is getting all the goodwill. Gennady Golovkin, a Soviet expatriate, gets all da luv. KKKovalev, likewise. At the end of the day, our innate fascination with carnage and primal destruction (in boxing manifested in KOs) supersede cultural connections. This is why you had an arena full of Mexicans screaming "Triple G!" over and over in spite of the Mexican fanbase -- and their support of their own -- being the lifeblood of North American boxing. F*ck it. We all love a good scrap.


-deepwater2 :

This is just Hopkin's way of throwing down the PR Flag on the floor. Attention. Hopkin's style gets him no love. If Bernard was doing some speed stick commercials like Hagler did he might of made his brand grow. I think most writers are fans of exciting boxing styles and exciting personalities. As far as individual writers who knows how they think.


-SouthPawFlo :

Hopkins is a freak of nature and he's not only a top boxer but a top athlete, his Committment & discipline are unmatched by anyone, I can't name anyone who has been in professional sports for 26 years, especially not a combat sport like boxing. Do I think he needs to be way more popular yes, but it's not just his race it's who he is as a person.... Big George Foreman was a more "lovable" black man and Hopkins Represents the type of Black man that scares white America and his prior history as a criminal has a lot to do with it as well...


-Skibbz :

Hopkins is a freak of nature and he's not only a top boxer but a top athlete, his Committment & discipline are unmatched by anyone, I can't name anyone who has been in professional sports for 26 years, especially not a combat sport like boxing. Do I think he needs to be way more popular yes, but it's not just his race it's who he is as a person.... Big George Foreman was a more "lovable" black man and Hopkins Represents the type of Black man that scares white America and his prior history as a criminal has a lot to do with it as well...
Big George was a menacing figure, leave the mans past in his past he hasn't committed a single criminal offence (his own admission) since being released from prison. We all have pasts, some of which we are proud of and others not so much. It is as you say who he is as a person, his lack of superstar persona. He's a champ in many regards though, boxing being the foremost!


-Froggy :

Hopkins is a freak of nature and he's not only a top boxer but a top athlete, his Committment & discipline are unmatched by anyone, I can't name anyone who has been in professional sports for 26 years, especially not a combat sport like boxing. Do I think he needs to be way more popular yes, but it's not just his race it's who he is as a person.... Big George Foreman was a more "lovable" black man and Hopkins Represents the type of Black man that scares white America and his prior history as a criminal has a lot to do with it as well...
Gordie Howe played 26 seasons in the NHL and 7 seasons in the WHA, and some people think hockey is a bit of a combat sport !


-Radam G :

Hopkins is a freak of nature and he's not only a top boxer but a top athlete, his Committment & discipline are unmatched by anyone, I can't name anyone who has been in professional sports for 26 years, especially not a combat sport like boxing. Do I think he needs to be way more popular yes, but it's not just his race it's who he is as a person.... Big George Foreman was a more "lovable" black man and Hopkins Represents the type of Black man that scares white America and his prior history as a criminal has a lot to do with it as well...
I can named a 100. But I don't like to show off. So I will name a few from the old Skool. Boxers: Archie "The Old Mongoose" Moore, Bob FitzSimmon, Jack Johnson and Bob Foster. Baseballers: Julio Franco and Satchel Paige. Yank footballers: George Blanda and More Andersen. And what exactly do you mean by combat? Mano-i-mano o groupo-i-groupo? Holla!


-The Shadow :

Gordie Howe played 26 seasons in the NHL and 7 seasons in the WHA, and some people think hockey is a bit of a combat sport !
Well, there's definitely a combat element. Some guys -- "enforcers" -- stayed in the league past their expiration date for that reason alone. Not to mention, it's extremely physical. Just because there's no punches thrown, outside of the fights, anyway, there's still impact and trauma from said impact. That said, in hockey, victory is determined by who passes the puck over the goal line more times than the other. In boxing, scoring is done by physically hurting the opponent. It's definitely a unique accomplishment. Especially for a guy with his style who relies on reflexes, timing and speed -- some of the first things to go once you cross 30. George Foreman can probably beat journeymen and bums today, based on his punching power alone. His power is that freakish. Hopkins doesn't have that. For that reason, what he's doing is that much more impressive.


-amayseng :

Hopkins is a freak of nature and he's not only a top boxer but a top athlete, his Committment & discipline are unmatched by anyone, I can't name anyone who has been in professional sports for 26 years, especially not a combat sport like boxing. Do I think he needs to be way more popular yes, but it's not just his race it's who he is as a person.... Big George Foreman was a more "lovable" black man and Hopkins Represents the type of Black man that scares white America and his prior history as a criminal has a lot to do with it as well...
Agree with the top paragraph but disagree with the second. Foreman used to rob and mug people in the streets. Tyson was convicted of rape and then released as popular as ever to "white america" How do you explain that? Having emotions on race can sway ones perspective. I grew up near Cleveland being a superior white athlete in every sport. You think I was not discriminated against for being white and better than everyone especially on the basketball court? I got jumped on a basketball court during a game because I was white and destroying a black player....He was embarrassed and sucker punched me as I was the only white kid there, and believe me they told me I was the only "cracka" there..... Racial injustice can go both ways. What about Money May? 3 different situations of domestic abuse, which is physically harming a female...Yet he is the most popular and earning fighter today, white america does not seem to have racial separation or fear to him?


-The Shadow :

I can named a 100. But I don't like to show off. So I will name a few from the old Skool. Boxers: Archie "The Old Mongoose" Moore, Bob FitzSimmon, Jack Johnson and Bob Foster. Baseballers: Julio Franco and Satchel Paige. Yank footballers: George Blanda and More Andersen. And what exactly do you mean by combat? Mano-i-mano o groupo-i-groupo? Holla!
Morten is actually Danish, Radam! Dude was a failed soccer player but could kick the ball like a motherf*cker. When I first came to America, I lived with a guy who was on his way to becoming a 12-time Pro Bowler. His wife was Danish, too. She was my sister's best friend and lived in our house because her mother had turned to the bottle. So I ended up living with them. So Danish TV came over and did a report on Danish people in the NFL. (Funny sidebar, Radam: When I was like 1-2 years old, growing up in a hick town, my young mother, the only black person within a 250 miles radius, would sometimes take off to go to London with my daddy's dough to get her fancy weave done, leaving me behind with my sister. So she would cart me around like a circus animal -- "look at that pretty little n*****!" -- along with her two friends. I never knew this until many years later but because of that, those three decided to go to America and find themselves some chocolate of their own so they could have a mini Shadow, too. Each one married a black dude. One married the NFL guy, (who ended up winning a Man Of The Year Award), has three kids. Good dude, wise choice. My sister married one, had three mini Shadows, one of which is the soccer superstar, not bad. And the last one -- the dimwitted one -- married a Frisco hitman named Gregory from the Bay. I kid you not. Anyway, back on topic, Morten Andersen was a kicker. All he gotta do is swing a leg. Boxing, as you know, is a full body sport. And that's just when it comes to exertion. Then you gotta deal with another strong, well-conditioned son of a gun trying to murk you.


-Radam G :

Wow! Interesting. And you have to watch those dang "Fricoes!" Hahaha! Holla!


-The Commish :

This is just Hopkin's way of throwing down the PR Flag on the floor. Attention. Hopkin's style gets him no love. If Bernard was doing some speed stick commercials like Hagler did he might of made his brand grow. I think most writers are fans of exciting boxing styles and exciting personalities. As far as individual writers who knows how they think.
actly, Deepwater. Hopkins does a lot of things for attention. So does Floyd Mayweather. So does Adrien Broner. So do a lot of celebrities. I have known Bernard Hopkins since his fifth professional fight, when he stopped Jouvin Mercado on a card in Rochester, New York. The main event featured Charles "The Natural" Murray, while the co-feature spotlighted heavyweight contender Ray Mercer. At the weigh-in the night before, I remember Hopkins telling me, "I am going to be Middleweight Champion one day, Commissioner. Remember my name." The next night, he won on a second-round knockout, taking his record to 4-1. I was impressed and told him to call my office when he knew the details of his next fight. I told him that if the fight was anywhere within a few hours drive from New York City, I'd be there. A few days later, my secretary buzzed my office. "A fighter by the name Bernard Hopkins in on the line. He says you will remember him. He fought the other night in Rochester." I picked up the phone. "Hi Bernard," I began. "See, I remember you." He laughed. "You told me I should call you when I had my next fight lined up, Commissioner," he said. "Well, I got the date. It's on June 30 at Trump Castle in Atlantic City." As his fight in upstate New York had only been a few days earlier, and it was already June 5, this meant Hopkins would be fighting again in four weeks. "I'm on a mission," he said. "The mission is going to make me a world champion." In Rochester, I promised him I would be at his next fight. I now promised him I would be there in Atlantic City. I picked up the phone and called my colleague across the river in New Jersey, Commissioner Larry Hazzard. "I remember this Hopkins kid," said Hazzard. "He made his debut over a year ago at Resorts. He lost a decision. I think he took over a year off after that, then came back with a couple of wins at the Blue (Horizon in Philadelphia) and followed with a first-round knockout a few weeks ago at the Sands. The guy he fought was nothing special." I told Hazzard that Hopkins had followed the victory at the Sands with a victory in New York less than two weeks later, and that I had promised Hopkins I would be there for his next fight." Commissioner Hazzard told me to come down, that I'd sit with him for the card. Well, that night, Hopkins put his opponent to sleep in 36 seconds of the first round. It was his fifth victory in six fights. I got to know him well and was ringside for many of his fights after that. I spent lots of time with him, talking as a friend and doing one-on-one interviews with him over the years. Never--not once--did any racial slur or remark come out of his mouth. He told me he was living a dream, that he had thought about becoming a champion even while he was in prison as a young man. I saw him around journalists, hotel executives and fans on countless occasions. I never saw him act as anything but rofessional. "This is what I have always wanted for myself," he told me after winning the vacant IBF Middleweight Title with a decision over Segundo Mercado in December 1994 and stopping Mercado in a rematch four months later. Through interview after interview, through chat after chat, I never heard Bernard spew one line of hatred or say that he wasn't being respected by portions of the media and fans. Hopkins likes to talk. Check that. Hopkins LOVES to talk. He loves to do outrageous things (like throwing the Puerto Rican flag on the ground in Puerto Rico). Sometimes, he acts on impulse, as he did then, and, as I believe, he did the other day. He wants more eyeballs of this fight, so he says and does some pretty wacky things. He has gone from being the Executioner to being the Alien. All the time, all he had to be was Bernard Hopkins. He is headed to the Hall of Fame regardless of whether he wins or loses on Saturday. I expect he'll be a respectful winner, just as I expect he will be a gracious loser. That's the Bernard Hopkins I know, not the one who spoke a few ill-thought words a few days ago. -Randy G.


-leon30001 :

I say this: who gives a mother@#!*? I am so very, VERY bored of hearing about racism. I don't CARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! B-Hop is just stirring the pot, probably with a gleam in his eye. Looking forward to the fight though; every Hopkins fight is history at this point. p.s. maybe there's something in your being convicted of armed robbery, Bernard, that counted against you in the crossover star stakes? Just sayin'! One more thing: I see no evidence whatsoever that Caucasian boxing writers are biased; look at all the sycophancy toward Mayweather as Exhibit A; and this guy is a serial woman beater FFS!