Champion Bernard Hopkins vs. Teen Anxiety & Depression
(52– 8–2 32 KOs) (1 in 5 Teens Suffering)
With a career that spanned 28 years, legendary Philadelphia boxing champion Bernard Hopkins has come out of retirement to take on one of his most formidable opponents – Teen Anxiety & Depression! Harnessing his unrivaled physical and mental discipline that prepared him for every fight in and out of the ring, Bernard Hopkins has teamed up with Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D. to knockout teen anxiety and depression. He could have chosen a life of luxury after his retirement at the age of 51; after all, he earned it. But not B-Hop. He has much more to accomplish outside the ring. Together with MGH, his new fight aims to save a culture, and in turn, save lives. This isn’t hype, the usual banter boxers engage in prior to their bout. This is real. Teen anxiety and depression are real. B-Hop wants all teens to know that this life, your life, is worth fighting for!
“This wasn’t planned in my retirement. It happened by attending a fundraising event for Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D., as the guest of my good friend Larry Cohen. The conversations that evening were about what I stand for in life. Instead of packing up and living in Miami, enjoying the rest of my life…because that’s not me…I returned to Philadelphia. See, there are young people that are crying out in a way that we gotta reach them before they reach us. Because when it normally reaches us, it’s on the bad end. We get to read about it, get to talk about it then. Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D. has been built off of sacrifice of something that has been going on for a long time and is finally gaining more awareness, fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, as a result of celebrities in the news. The way I look at it, everybody is a celebrity; but they need to be here long enough to show that they really are. Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D. and I believe that your life is worth fighting for. We’re in your corner!”
–Bernard Hopkins on why he has teamed up with Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D.
Adversity is his Opponent. Resilience, his Trainer.
Bernard Hopkins started life on the hardened streets of the projects of North Philadelphia, getting into trouble, and doing what he could just to survive. His rough lifestyle, however, caught up with him at the tender age of 17. Convicted of eight felonies, he was sentenced to Graterford State Penitentiary for 18 years, more years than he’s drawn breath on this earth. From mugging people as a teenager to D-block at Graterford, Bernard Hopkins looked like he was becoming another statistic, not a champion – yet.
Bernard Hopkins’ life, now, is a far cry from how it started. Shaped by all his life experiences, none was more profound than the murder of his younger brother Michael which happened when Bernard was on his way to Graterford. And yet another pivotal moment would come soon enough, in prison, when he saw the death of an inmate over something as insignificant as a pack of cigarettes. The value of life seemed to escape Bernard early in his life, until these two defining moments. Something had to change, lest he end up like his brother or the other kids from the projects. In prison, he turned to boxing. It was the change. Bernard served 56 months and was released on parole in 1988, at 23 years of age, with a bleak outlook for his future. Even the warden told Bernard that he would see him again soon. Bernard said, “I’m never returning.” He lived up to that promise, but it wasn’t easy.
Fresh out of prison, a convicted felon trying to find work while witnessing people from the ‘hood driving nice cars, wearing nice clothes, dawning gold jewelry, but not really working for it, in an honest way. Would he return to his old ways out of comfort or would he uphold his declaration to the warden? 9 years of parole still hung over his head, even after he turned pro. Bernard grabbed jobs here and there until his boxing career started to take shape. Each day he stepped away from his past, but it wasn’t easy staying out of trouble. By his own account, he couldn’t go two days without getting into trouble when he was younger.
Nine years of parole still lie ahead. He’s been here before. He’s faced adversity. But, here’s the difference. Before Graterford, life was about bad decisions. He didn’t focus on life, and who his actions would hurt or affect. He was lost. He didn’t care about living. He was beating up people, people who had guns and knives. Bernard was stabbed 3 times by the time he was 13 years old! He shouldn’t even be alive. Boxing became the paradigm shift that he needed if he was going to make it in life, let alone become one of the greatest boxers of all time – a champion. Again, before Graterford, a life full of bad decisions, no hope, no respect for life. After Graterford, a man with resilience to make it out of the hardened streets that claimed his brother’s life and could have sucked Bernard back in like a black hole. Lots of people close to him died on those streets. They didn’t get that 2nd chance that Bernard was gifting himself.
Bernard felt he was given a chance to correct the ways of his past so that his future could claim victory. In prison, he would have been justified giving up on life, losing his mind, not caring any more. But he didn’t. He chose not to check-out on life. “I chose not to check-out on me,” says Bernard. He knew it would not be easy because “opponents come at you in more than one way.”
He started his boxing career at age 25, considered old for professional boxing. He lost his first bout, stepped back for about 18 months to regroup, and then returned to boxing in 1990. Since that return, Bernard followed a philosophy of not throwing in the towel. “I wasn’t going to allow anyone to throw in the towel on me and I certainly wasn’t going to throw in the towel on myself. No way.”
His boxing record speaks for itself. The journey to get there is the kind of stuff you read in best-selling books and movies meant for the big screen. And while he can boast larger-than-life achievements, championship belts and longevity in a business not known for it, Bernard is humble. He can recognize adversity in the eyes of others, like a trained K9 picking up a scent. After all, he’s been there and come out on the other side. He gave himself a fighting chance. He came out on the other side because he went through what he needed to in order to rise above his circumstances. He built his “team” and made sure he had the right people in his corner. “There are a lot of things I look at that I used to do, even though I was successful, as a waste of time. But those are the things you have to go through. We are young before we are old. We are immature before we become mature.” (Source: https://roundbyroundboxing.com/photo-gallery-bernard-hopkins-media-workout-quotes-photos/ – October 28, 2014)
Bernard’s message for our youth is very clear. “Never throw in the towel on yourself and certainly don’t allow anyone to throw in the towel on you. Your life is worth fighting for. Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D. and I are in your corner.” With hands wrapped, a fire in his belly complimented by his passion for life, and a fierceness reserved only for his opponents, Bernard steps into the ring with Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D. prepared to fight for teens struggling with anxiety and depression with only one outcome – Victory!
“If you don’t know your own value, somebody will tell you your value, and it’ll be less than you’re worth.”
– World Boxing Champion Bernard Hopkins, a.k.a. The Executioner, The Alien, B-Hop