HIS STORY has been told many times over the last few years, but it is still no easier to fathom. At nearly 49 years young, Bernard Hopkins had perhaps his best calendar year to date in 2013, earning him the runner-up slot in the Daily News Sportsperson of the Year voting.
Hopkins had two fights in the past year, both against opponents nearly 20 years younger.
On March 9, he took down Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to win the IBF light-heavyweight title. He was the oldest boxer ever to hold a title in any weight class at 48 years old. A little more than 7 months later, he retained that title in Atlantic City against mandatory challenger Karo Murat in a unanimous decision.
Hopkins has received other honors this year, notably the John Wanamaker Athletic Award, which was presented by the Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau in July.
"It's respect," Hopkins said at the award ceremony. "It's very respectful of what I have done. Disagree or agree, my record of what I have represented is worldly recognized. It's very important to me, and that's why I'm here. It's a historic, prestigious event, and I wouldn't miss it."
Also within the past 12 months, he decided that his own nickname was no longer suitable for the feats he is still accomplishing.
"I must confess that I am not human. I am an alien. I have retired 'The Executioner,' " he said of his old nickname, at news conference in early June. "You will not hear me be called 'The Executioner.' You will not hear Bernard Hopkins, after right now, mention 'The Executioner.' I will be representing what I have been told that I am. I am in this world, but I am not of this world."
With all the success he has had in defying age, he has won over Philadelphia's hearts again. He prides himself on being a Philadelphia boxer, and knows how much history this city has with the sport.
"It's so important to me, when I fight, they don't say 'Bernard 'The Executioner' Hopkins, Greenville, Delaware,' they say 'Bernard Hopkins, Philadelphia,' " Hopkins said at the Wanamaker Award luncheon. "That is for two reasons. One, Delaware doesn't scare my opponents, and two, Philadelphia does. That, for me, is the respect that I have for a town that respected me.
"If they accept you, if they know you give your heart and soul to what you do, trust me, you can ask any sports team or any sports guy or any athlete, they will let you know when you suck," Hopkins said. "Even Santa Claus."