Hopkins began boxing after leaving prison, gained fame first as a knockout artist and later as a crafty defensive fighter, and is now one of the oldest successful pro boxers ever.
From Boom Mancini and Micky Ward, Hollywood loves to dramatize the lives of great boxer. But it has so far ignored the most incredible ring story since Muhammad Ali. Then again, it would be difficult to make a movie about Bernard Hopkins—both because his career has seemed like it will never end, and because if someone wrote a script about Hopkins's journey, no Hollywood producer would believe it was true.
But if Hopkins had fought in the 1950s, when boxing on TV was part of mainstream American culture, he would have been a household name. As it is, the 48-year-old Hopkins will have to settle for a few million devotees who'll be tuning in to see what could well be his last fight along with several thousand ringside at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Saturday, when he'll face International boxing Federation light-heavyweight (limit 175 pound) champion Tavoris Cloud, who's 17 years his junior.
Bernard Humphrey Hopkins, Jr. was born in January 15, 1965 in Philadelphia. He grew up in perhaps the most crime-ridden projects in Philly. By the time he was 11, he was already into petty theft; within two years, he was mugging people and had been to the emergency room three times with stab wounds. He joined a gang and graduated to higher crimes. By the age of 18 he had accumulated a rap sheet longer than his left arm. In 1982, after racking up nine felonies, he was sent to Graterford Prison for 18 years. As he once told a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, "I saw worse stuff inside prison than I ever saw in the streets. I saw guys raped, beaten and tortured. When I saw a guy murdered for a lousy pack of cigarettes, something in me snapped. I knew that I had to be responsible for turning my own life around."