On March 9th, Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins defeated Tavoris Cloud for the IBF light heavyweight championship of the world at age 48 becoming the oldest man in recorded boxing history to win a recognized world boxing championship.
It’s a phenomenal sporting achievement. But what’s the motivation for a warrior like Bernard Hopkins to stay at the top for so long?
Hopkins was sent down at the age of eighteen. Upon leaving prison, his warder told him that he would see him again back in here sometime soon. Hopkins replied knowingly, that he would not be back.
It’s pivotal moments like that, that can shape a mans life path. It’s the urge to prove a point. They think you cant and won’t change. You know different. They don’t know how the negativity of the experience has shaped you. You do.
And it’s that powerful sense of self-knowing, that forms the glue for your motivation. You hold onto that feeling for years. It comes from pride, self-respect and an urge to never ever go back, and be dragged down.
On top of that, you have Hopkins desire to make history and rewrite the record books. To show the world what is possible for a man to achieve, regardless of perceived notions about age. For a fighter who has taken care of himself, age brings with it knowledge; intelligence; ring craft; a wisdom about your sport that you cant attain in your early twenties.
And then there is the love of the sport. The love of those special moments, when you are in the zone, and feel fully and totally alive. Moments difficult to achieve with the same sense of total euphoria in everyday life. You will do whatever it takes for just one more night in the zone…where time seems to stand still; where you can see the next punch coming as if it is in slow-motion; where you feel you can dance and move all night.
Add to this potent mix, ‘Edgecraft’. Hopkins created edge before the Tavoris Cloud fight, by openly claiming that he would put former promoter Don King out of business, by defeating his fighter.
It’s the Michael Jordan way to achieve peak performance. Get right out of your comfort zone, by letting people what you are going to do before you do it. Put it on the line. Give yourself no get out clause. This creates such a focus, that means you have to match your words with deeds. It’s your pride on the line!
Bernard Hopkins has achieved the mastership of his sport. It has taken years of dedication, devotion, love, committment and sacrifice. Few are prepared to go on this journey. But those who do. are the legends who carve their names in the rock of sporting history.