When Bernard Hopkins rummages around in his closet today for a Halloween costume, he will have two choices. For most of his career he was “The Executioner.” He wore the kind of hooded mask that one associates – thanks to Hollywood horror flicks – with executioners during the Medieval Age.
Late in his career, Hopkins morphed from The Executioner into The Alien. He exchanged his executioner’s mask for a bright green hooded mask with bulging black eyes that was meant to depict an alien from outer space. He first wore this costume on Oct. 26, 2013 when he opposed Germany’s Karo Murat at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
His motivation? “I will be representing what I have been told that I am. I am in this world, but I am not of this world,” said the then 48-year-old IBF light heavyweight champion.
The Alien did well against Murat, but not so well against Sergey Kovalev when they met at Boardwalk Hall on Nov. 8, 2014. Kovalev, the younger man by 16 years, won every round on all three scorecards. So it was no surprise that Hopkins ditched the Alien costume for his farewell fight against Joe Smith Jr. last December, reverting to The Executioner, complete with the accouterments that he had abandoned, two bodybuilders stripped to the waist, carrying pole axes, who flanked him on his ring walk. It was a blast from the past, good fun until the bell rang and Hopkins fought like the middle-aged man that he was.
When Bernard Hopkins first adopted his Executioner shtick, it seemed hokey. But Hopkins knew what he was doing. He knew that he didn’t have a fan-friendly style and that he needed a gimmick to capture the attention of casual fight fans. In hindsight it was something of a stop-gap measure because as Hopkins solidified his reputation as a great ring artisan and ultimately an ageless wonder, his Halloween costume became unnecessary. Years from now, his ring walk won’t be what folks remember about him.
Wilbert Johnson, a middleweight from Middletown, Ohio, is another who has no need to go shopping for a Halloween costume. Known as “The Viper,” Johnson, active from 1980 to 1989, was sometimes carried into the ring in a coffin from which he arose wearing a back cape. Missing his two front teeth, his appearance was positively ghoulish.
If an Executioner shows up at your door tonight, you will know who it is. Perhaps he will be accompanied by a circus clown in a sequined dress. That would be Jorge “Maromero” Paez. As for that trick-or-treater in the tassled Tarzan skirt, why that’s Hector Camacho, back from the dead. And speaking of folks coming back from the hereafter, tonight is the night that the legendary Welsh flyweight Jimmy Wilde emerges from the grave, freed to roam about the country.
They called Jimmy Wilde “The Ghost With The Hammer” – the perfect Halloween nickname.
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