FSN’s one-hour documentary series BEYOND THE GLORY returns with a new episode profiling boxing legend Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins. In this episode, BTG tells the life story of a young boy from the rough streets of Philadelphia, who learned the importance of defending himself at an early age. After a childhood filled with crime and violence, Hopkins defeated the odds and transformed himself from street fighter and jailhouse warrior to boxing legend and decorated champion. BTG: BERNARD HOPKINS airs Sun., July 10 at 6:00 PM local.
Hopkins spent his childhood in the Raymond Rosen Projects, where the years were marked with violence, neglect and the ever-present influence of destructive street culture. In the hopes of steering her family away from that kind of life, his mother moved the family to the suburb of Germantown. It was there that Hopkins’ career really began, as he lit up the amateur boxing circuit, trying to resist the temptations of the street.
Ultimately, as he grew tired of the amateur circuit, Hopkins gave in to the temptation, choosing a life of crime. After a series of arrests ranging from robbery to assault, he was sentenced to Philadelphia’s Graterford Penitentiary in 1982 for armed robbery. There, Hopkins rediscovered boxing as a way to turn his life around. By the time he had served his sentence, Hopkins had earned the reputation as the most feared fighter behind bars, and upon his release, his professional boxing career was off and running.
In 1988, Hopkins lost his first professional fight, a four-round decision to Clinton Mitchell in Atlantic City. But the loss only propelled him to work harder to make a name for himself in the boxing world. His first title fight came in 1993 against former Olympian, Roy Jones, Jr. in Washington D.C. Despite losing the IBF championship to Jones Jr. that night, many were starting to take notice of Hopkins’ explosive style.
Hopkins won his first title two years later, knocking out Segundo Mercado in the seventh round for the IBF middleweight championship. In 2001, he stepped into the ring to fight Puerto Rican sensation Felix Trinidad in a highly publicized bout from Madison Square Garden. On that night, he rose to the top of his game, earning a twelfth round TKO and becoming the first undisputed world middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler in 1987.
Hopkins has now defended his title 20 consecutive times, including a victory in 2004 over six-division titleholder Oscar De La Hoya. Hopkins knocked out the Golden Boy in the ninth round, solidifying his reputation as “The Executioner.”
The 40-year-old Hopkins remains the undisputed middleweight champion, and next will face undefeated middleweight heir apparent Jermain Taylor in a fight being billed as “Next In Line” on Sat., July 16 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The championship card will be presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with DiBella Entertainment and will be distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View.
Outside his professional career, Hopkins continues to give back to those that once helped him find his way. He often visits Philadelphia juvenile detention centers to serve as a role model for teens by sharing his story of struggle and success. Hopkins believes his story – of a boy on the streets becoming one of boxing’s most decorated champions - will inspire and give hope to Philadelphia’s troubled teens, proving that anything is possible with hard work, perseverance and passion.
Bernard Hopkins: “Either you're a lamb or you're a wolf. I chose to be the wolf. Because I don't know the experience, I don't know the feeling of being a lamb, but I know that a lamb doesn’t have a chance in hell if you're around a wolf.”
“I wasn’t near the baddest guy in Graterford out of 3-4,000 inmates...Compared to the guys that were in there, I was a church mouse.”
“When it comes to what you want to be remembered by when you leave the game, it’s that Bernard Hopkins not only was the best fighter in his era, but he was a man. Never cry. It's a sign of weakness. You can't cry in jail, there's no crying in baseball and there's damn sure no crying in the penitentiary. I beat the odds. Very few people beat the odds. It’s a miracle.”