Boxing


Tarver - Hopkins: Hopkins Conference Call - Part II

SCOTT FOSTER: Well, you know, much has been made about Tarver's southpaw style, and how that should benefit Antonio. But that sort of dismisses how well you've done versus south paws in your career. Describe what you do to adjust to the south pay style?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I don't do anything to adjust to the south paw style. I just punch them before they punch me..

I mean when you get into that look, look at my record, I'm knocked out by nine out of 12, and seven of them was world class fighters. And so, you know, people, you know, for some it depends on how they style of fighting is, a south paw can be a problem to them. A guy that's flat footed and walking and he's slugging, a south paw will eat a guy like that all day. Most south paws are counter puncher. What is Tarver? Tarver is a counter puncher. If you don't give him a target to counter, he will sit there and look at you like he's in a mirror.

That to me – I'd rather for all of my fights to have been south paws, because I know how to fight a south pay. Because it's nothing but (INAUDIBLE). I don't think about where my feet is at when I fight a south paw. I think about that he has something that I've got to take away. And it's not the left hand, it's the right hook that comes when you're blind sided that you don't see.

Now the hand that's coming down the pike, the left hand, you're going to see that, if you know what's coming. The punches that you don't see, is the punches that get you.

SCOTT FOSTER: And one last question Bernard on Ray Robinson. You know, he retired after his bout with Maxim (ph) for the second time, but ended up coming back to the sport for over a decade. How satisfying is it for you to know that everything is said and done, you've accomplished really all you ever wanted to. And that you really have another life, after you step out of the ring on the promotional side. How satisfying is that for you?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well I miss talking, obviously. And then, it is satisfying. But, you know, most fighters come back not because they want to come back. Ray Robinson came back because he was broke.

SCOTT FOSTER: Right.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Joe Louis (ph) because he was broke. Let's not get it twisted. I'm not broke. I'm not coming back after June 10th. I'm going to do something else, and I'm doing it all ready. And ask my friend, my promoter, my partner in promotion, Richard Schafer, my advisor, CEO of Golden Boy, we are going to be the head in a promotional business of boxing in a new way, in a new era, and it's happening now. So my transition has always been plan before you go to the event. And I told myself that, and understood that long before I became Bernard Hopkins the fighter, because the last time I didn't plan, I did five years in the penitentiary. And I've been planning ever since I got out. And that planning before hand had me sitting here talking on the phone about a historic fight that I am going to accomplish, not attempt, but going to accomplish.

And to me, that is something that I would never, never underestimate or never abandon in my life. You plan. And then you execute.

SCOTT FOSTER: Well that sounds really good Bernard. We appreciate it.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Thanks.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from Dan Rafael with ESPN, please go ahead.

DAN RAFAEL, ESPN: Hey, Bernard, how are you today?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Hey, Dan. How are you doing, man? Everything is good. New Orleans is hot man. I don't know if they want me to lose weight in this hot muggy sauna, or they want me to gain weight.

DAN RAFAEL: I was going to ask you about that. You know, you've spent most of your career training in either, I guess, Miami recently, training in Philadelphia. Can you tell me what it's been like to go to New Orleans? Obviously a city that's been devastated in the past year, and to I guess, really see it up close on a daily basis as you do your training, what has that been like?

BERNARD HOPKINS: It's been a humbling experience. Mackey Shilstone and his wife, Mrs. Shilstone took a tour of the ninth ward and oh my God. Sunday, we went down and we drove, and we didn't get out but we watched. We filmed it. I've got a piece of history that I will keep with me. I mean, you know, you're talking about the destruction of a 9/11. I mean this was a 9/11 of nature. And this hear was real sad. That is 400 bodies, as we speak, that was told to me by New Orleans person that's still out there in the rubble. People lost their homes. At a church, maybe a dozen people come and see me that their lost house, lost the church, watch me, had open house public workouts that are normally, never had in my camp.

I met Ray Nagin , the new mayor or New Orleans. I met the mayor – well the candidate that was trying to be mayor. I met a lot of people through Mackey Shilstone in New Orleans. They're glad I was down here. You're right at the Sheraton, downtown and the part of downtown. They've got a – I mean how big is that Mackey, that big poster of me?

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Twenty-four by 20 feet.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Twenty-four by 20 feet colored banner, plastered on the side of the shirts and hotels. If you can't see that, then you ought to go in and get checked for eyes, because you can see that for miles away. That's in right. New Orleans has opened their hearts out to me, and glad that I came to New Orleans and chose that town under the situation that they're under and I'm glad to be here.

Because, what it done for me personally, and it will be part, and it is part of why I train so hard, and what I'll be thinking about while (ph) I'm in the ring, if and when things get tough, you don't elaborate on them, obviously you've got to snap out anything. But things go through our minds when we're in that ring. When things get rough, when things get tough it was D block for me, for many years, that's (INAUDIBLE). And then it was this, it was my mom losing to breast cancer, four years ago, 57 years old, who told me I shouldn't fight past 37. I'm a couple of years past that. Shirley Hopkins.

It was a lot of things go through your mind when you have a slight, a little bit of doubt of why you're doing this. It ain't worth it. Others writing you off. That pulls me back together. New Orleans has sold any doubts that nothing can be accomplished – that anything could be accomplished if you really want to make it happen. And let me tell you, the least problems I have of going in the ring June 10th, compared to these people down here in New Orleans. It's the least (INAUDIBLE) to me. And it was a motivational tool, part of one of the logs that went in the fireplace to keep the fire burning in Bernard Hopkins soul is that when you see people who grab me and cry, can you sign a picture. An eight year boy comes down with no hair, with leukemia, I play you on my game. His mother (INAUDIBLE) bring him to the gym. I gave him gloves. Everlast supplied me with a whole facility of rain (ph), gloves (ph), extra stuff, and things that I need. And seeing a guy – a little kid, who hopefully can see past this and make it past this and you humble yourself.

And so you take all of that, and say, man that's motivation for me. And let me tell you something, I've been in New Orleans two or three times, since '99 and in between 2000 and 2001. So I'm not new to New Orleans. But they have put the red carpet out there for Bernard Hopkins. And they respected me and I respected them. And everything they needed from me was to sign an autograph, whether can we come watch you train, because we know you're going to shut it down in the next two weeks, which we have done all ready. And I have crowds, basically man, for the first two weeks, here, man, every day, cops, lawyers, doctors. I mean that to me, I appreciate them and they appreciate me.

DAN RAFAEL: Thanks, Bernard. Mackey are you there?

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Yes, I am, Dan.

DAN RAFAEL: Mackey, I'd like to ask you, you had mentioned earlier we know about your work with Ray Jones in the past when he did his thing against John Ruiz and also with Aldgate (ph) Sphinx with Larry Holmes. Could you take a second to sort of compare just the way that Bernard has adapted to the sort of things that you've asked him to do? Or that you've talked about in terms of his nutrition and conditioning, as it compares to the way those other guys who are successful in their bids to move up and win big fights?

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Well, you know, something, Dan, it's kind of funny. You know, when I had been through this several times before and so I'm learning about Bernard Hopkins before he comes in, I do my homework and I read and I read the statistics and I see the word disciplined. And he shows up on time and what have you.

And then, when I get to meet him, I felt like I was talking to myself. I looked him in the face and think I was looking at myself. We're two peas in a pod. We basically take the same vitamins. We shop at whole foods. We love to exercise. We love to train. I had to get through in my mind having gone through this so many times before. And he actually reminded me of this, I'm not your typical kind of athlete that you encounter. And sometimes when you look yourself in the face, you really have to step back a little bit to get perspective. I mean it's like seeing the forest for the trees. I didn't have to tell him anything. I didn't have to talk to him about motivation. He's the most motivated person I've come across in a long time.

The only thing I gave him was I wanted him to read one of my books I wrote, and give me his opinion on the chapters on motivation. So I don't know what more I can tell you. Basically from the fitness lifestyle, he doesn't live an athletes lifestyle. He leads a healthy lifestyle. It is textbook, out of the book. And in my opinion from a health standpoint, I heard him use the word or people have used the word throw back, I think he's probably 21st century back – way back when. I think he's a throw forward. I don't think he's a throw back.

DAN RAFAEL: You mean in terms of nutrition.

MACKEY SHILSTONE: So from a health standpoint, from what I'm very interested in lifestyle he lives.

DAN RAFAEL: You mean, when you say throw forward you're talking about in terms of the way he maintains his body at age 41, and the things he, you know, the he works out and all of that.

MACKEY SHILSTONE: What makes you think he's 41.

DAN RAFAEL: That's what he's been telling us.

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Well I mean don't you have something called chronological age, health age, and performance age.

DAN RAFAEL: Sure. I mean it sounds like to me….

MACKEY SHILSTONE: I wonder whether, you know, people have always said about me when I've gone through fitness testing, that I have a health age of a 19 year old. I finally met someone that has the health age of a 15 year old with a 41 wisdom brain. I mean he was doing this as I've been able to go back, because see we run together and I tend to talk and he tends to talk to me. So he's been doing this for years, years. So that's why, I think he's a throw forward. If the rest of the country lived the way he did, my lifestyle management program which is another part of my world, unrelated to sports would be out of business.

Cardiology as we know it would change. The incidents of cancer would go down, trust me. It's the other part of my world, man. If we followed his plan for the rest of this country we wouldn't have the problems we have.

DAN RAFAEL: It sounds to me, tell me if I'm wrong, that when you guys got together, even though both of you have said you didn't know each other before the camp really started, that it was like, you know, old friends, like just easy getting together, no problem.

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Well, you know, no – no matter what, no matter what you go through as fighters go through as they approach going in the way. And Dan, I'm a firm believer that, and this is my own personal opinion, I speak for myself and not for him. My own personal opinion this as close as war as you get. And I feel that I am entrusted with a responsibility to take this soldier and to provide him to Nazim and John David and to his camp at the best he can be, because he puts his life on the line.

And as I told him long ago, whether – whatever you think of me, whatever we do, when this is all over, I will know that I have gained another friend.

DAN RAFAEL: Bernard, could you just address that real quick, about the way that when you first met Mackey, what it was like, those first couple of days of camp of just sort of feeling each other out.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes. I said this guy talks as much as I do. Me and Mackey ran…

DAN RAFAEL: That's not possible, Bernard.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes, well trust me. This guy can go, but, you know, what it was good talk. And it was something I listened to. And we run our three-and-a-half miles, sometimes four, and, you know, we do our sprints here and we trained at Tulane, Tulane is a well known college in New Orleans, and then we'll go to the park.

But to me, I – we got to sharing the things that we do, because Mackey don't know Bernard Hopkins, but only what he researched. And when he got to know what I did, what I ate, I don't hang out. I'm not in camp. I'm not sending my down here because he asked me Bernard, does your wife come to camp with you, the first day I came out here to meet him for two days of getting tested and things like that, so we can take this task on a physical make sure that he's dealing with a person that don't have no heart problems or anything wrong. And we talked, and he was picking my brain like he should. And I said, I looked at him like, I said, and I had to hold myself back because hey I'm not going to mention names, he didn't say anybody did this, but maybe someone before me rowed like that, rowed and handle this business. I don't know. The only thing I know, I looked at him, to me it was like a joke, but I didn't get offended. I said, no man my wife, I haven't seen my wife in almost seven, eight weeks. I shut down everything, nature wife. I just block that out of my mind. It's not even existing to me.

And I said (INAUDIBLE), OK. Now again, he just met me, he's hearing this, whether you believe it or not, I mean but we went forward. It isn't about judge and jury here. Then we've got to talk about what to eat, what I like to eat, because now, like I said, people want to know what's your diet, and all of that. He asked me what do you like to eat, so I can go and get it. I said, well I eat at Whole Foods. And the (INAUDIBLE). He said I eat at Whole Foods too. I said, and we like kids. I do too. So you've got people looking at us like wait a minute, these guys look like they just got the same insurance or something, you know, I mean from GEICO. So I'm sitting back, and I'm saying we've got something to talk about.

That – as simple as that might sound, that led into a snowball effect of what do you think about this? What do you think about this? Mackey, what do you think about this? And Mackey is so hands on, also, where Mackey don't want to keep – I mean have a stone unturned, where ever now, and then, we get in his lane, he got to push us out. Every now and then he get in our fighters lane, we push him out, but with respect. And then, he has enough and we have enough respect when to say Nazim, you're right you got this. I got that. You got this. You got that. And we've been rolling every since. And the easiest thing, I think for a trainer or a coach when you have a team, whether it's baseball, basketball or a fighter, that follow the script and want to work hard, when you've got to stop them working hard. Mackey, having said why you want (INAUDIBLE) since we've been here. (INAUDIBLE) day, except the days off about a 20, 30 – I mean, two or three, four minutes here coming down from the elevator to the car, little things like that, normal stuff. But we've been on course, like I'm a soldier listening to the general.

Because I know (INAUDIBLE) also, is that I can't hire a guy and expect him not to do his job. Same with Nazim. Same with John David Jackson. They all communicate. There's no egos here. I mean we've got confident guys that have egos, but they understand when I got the assurance from Mackey, the assurance from Nazim, the assurance of John David Jackson, that you man, it ain't about us. It's about you. We're going to sit our ass down, or we're going to go down those steps, and we're going to watch you for three minutes to get back to the corner. And we're going to go ahead and we're going to do what we have to do and you've got to get back out there. This is about Bernard. So anything we got, we're going to deal with it amongst ourselves. And it's been cool. I mean it's been great. We've been doing non stop plan since I got here May first, and we're winding down with three or four days left here in New Orleans. Monday morning, I believe, I'm heading out of here.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Hey, Dan…

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Dan, I just have one thing to say. I got the paid highest compliment by Nazim most recently. I'm 55 years of age, and I'm not going to be around in the boxing too much longer.

BERNARD HOPKINS: This is the last one, also, right?

MACKEY SHILSTONE: Yes, I'm not really going to do the day to day that I've been doing. I mean I'll consult, but he paid me the highest compliment that no one has ever paid me including the likes of Eddie Fudge (ph) and you name it. He said, you know, I think I can get you ready for a four rounder Mackey. And I said, Jesus, I've never been hit once. So I will always remember. I don't plan on every getting hit, but I will run in that ring. So I thank Nazim for that compliment.

DAN RAFAEL: Well if you talk to Richard Schafer, maybe he can get you a spot on the under card.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes.

MACKEY SHILSTONE: You may not be fond of me, OK.

DAN RAFAEL: Thank you. Good luck to you guys. I'll see you in Atlantic City.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Thanks.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from Thomas Gerbasi with maxboxing.com, please go ahead.

THOMAS GERBASI, MAXBOXING.COM: Hey, Bernard. You're a guy who's coming full circle in terms of starting your career in Atlantic City and ending it here. What do you remember about that first fight in Atlantic City?

BERNARD HOPKINS: I remember that first fight in Atlantic City of going up against a guy named Clinton Mitchell that had a hell of a golden glove career. I remember Michael Katz (ph) – no, no, Ryan Katz (ph), excuse me, the matchmaker, former matchmaker for top rank. It was one of those cards. Now before that, the Resort Mayor Griffin, I'll never forget it.

And I was, of course, don't know the knowledge that I have now but I was 0-0 fighting a guy that was 5-0, New York State Champion, golden gloves, bad fight, but I learned from it. I lost a split decision in that light heavyweight fight. I believe I was 23, maybe 22. I learned from that fight that A, I wasn't a light heavyweight at that time. B, had bad management. C, I didn't like losing. And I went through a 15 month withdraw to get myself together mentally if I want to go forward with this boxing or just subject myself back into the same neighborhood and the same behavior that got me in the position from 17 to 22 years old, or 23 years old.

So I remember a combination of things in that Clinton Mitchell fight that to me was like fighting 100 rounds. It was a four round fight. It wasn't televised. And that fight then – that fight there had, you know, motivated me after those 15 months to look forward once I got my mind together, what I want to do in life, to never give up. To not throw the towel in.

THOMAS GERBASI: Now, Bernard, is there a sense now, obviously you're preparing for a fight, but is there a sense going through this camp that, you know, this is the last time I'm doing this?

BERNARD HOPKINS: There's a sense physically. There's no sense to the point where this is the last time I'm doing this, because I have to do it first.

THOMAS GERBASI: Right.

BERNARD HOPKINS: And once I do it first, I think the focus on me is not after the fight. The focus on me is the fight. You can't have two or three things going on in your mind at one time. Retirement on this level at 41 years old, it's a blessing to be able to do that and healthy. You talk about that when the time comes. You don't talk about that, elaborate on that, before you go to combat.

THOMAS GERBASI: Right.

BERNARD HOPKINS: It's just a mental mistake. To be able to talk about something that can play a role, surviving, or not.

THOMAS GERBASI: Bernard, I guess I shouldn't ask this question but I will anyway.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well if you shouldn't ask it, then I don't think you should because your conscious all ready gave you a warning.

THOMAS GERBASI: Well what do you think you'll miss the most?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Good question. See that ain't a bad question, man. What I'm going to miss the most? The checks. Listen – come on now, now you asked me. I'm being honest with you, don't get me wrong. Because you've got to understand it's good and bad. It's (INAUDIBLE) when you're not boxing any more. Nobody is going to be handing four or $5 million because of my looks. So I mean I'm being honest. That's one of the things I'm going to miss. Now, of course, it ain't just boxing physically in the ring. I'm going to miss it but I'm going to be involved. I've got a nephew who's fighting Wednesday before our fight on ESPN, defending his USBA championship, Rock Allen. E. Shane Smith who's in camp with me was in the contenders fighting on Dimitri's (ph) under card.

You know, we've got Kasi Mumo (ph). We've got the Golden Boy situation. So really I'm going to be, you know, that with withdrawal, or what they call detox of being a fighter in the ring. Then I've got to sit there and watch it. I'm throwing punches. This is all something I'm going to – it's got to fade out as years go by, and I'm sitting ring side. I will fade out of that. But for the first year or two, I want to be, you know, I'm going to be feeling good about, you know, watching this stuff happen like it's me, but it's just getting out of my system. I've done this for 20 plus years, ever since I was seven as a amateur. And you can't – you've got to weed off it. You can't just go cold turkey. Nobody can.

So I realize that a lot of things that I like, that I am going to miss boxing, and also the check. The check is going to be missed because I understand that that's part of you're not doing it any more. You're not in the light boxing (INAUDIBLE) anymore. That is all the past.

THOMAS GERBASI: You know, thanks, I appreciate it. Good luck next week.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Thanks, friend.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question, is coming from Anwar Richardson, with the Tampa Tribune, please go ahead.

ANWAR RICHARDSON, "THE TAMPA TRIBUNE": Good afternoon, Bernard. How are you doing?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Thanks, man. How are you doing?

ANWAR RICHARDSON: Very good. Bernard, you've answered a lot of questions that I had for you, so I only have one more left. You know, when you fought your last two fights, the first one you lost, but it was by a unanimous decision – I mean split decision. The second one you followed up with a loss that was a unanimous decision. You were criticized both times, for maybe waiting a little bit too long to fight. And now you're moving up in weight to fight Antonio Tarver. So my question to you is can we see the same Bernard Hopkins that we saw for so many years, the dominant Bernard Hopkins? Can we see that same person, again, the fighter who we may not have seen in the past two fights?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well first of all, I still believe in my heart, call it denial, you have that right or whatever, I know what the scorecard says. I know what the toffee box (ph) says. And I know what Duane Ford said. But nevertheless, I believe that when I go in this ring June 10th, I don't look at myself as being an ex champion. I look at myself, and this is credibility as the people's champion. You hear it, I hear it and everybody listening to this phone call. What I'm going to do is ask people what do they personally think? There never should have been a second one, but nevertheless there was, I think he one that one also. But nevertheless, the past is never something that should be a situation where you let it blow (ph) on you in a negative way.

Bernard Hopkins, myself, will be a fighter that will fight the smart fight. Will fight the plan that was laid out by John David Jackson and Nazim Richardson. Styles make fights. Tarver's style is not like Jermaine Tulla (ph). I believe that me and Jermaine Tulla (ph) will fight, 20, 30 different times. I think it would be the same style, the same result, hard to judge, depending on what you're looking at. If you're looking at Bernard Hopkins slipping and moving, great defense, counter punching, and you know boxing, and you know what he's doing in there, as some had said, then you will see the art of what I bring to the table. And then someone will say well he's stolen punches, but he wasn't effective with them. Well he wasn't, but he still was doing something, just moving his hands. Well if I can move my hands during a fight, then I can move them if I'm not even near you. Should I get points for that?

But we're at the points of letting the guy move his hands and he's missing you right there in front of him. That's boxing that's missing today. You don't (ph) want to see blood and guts in this society. And we're learning about why things are being promoted and bought by our cards, because they're watching videos, and they want to see heads blown off. This is a blood and guts society. So the skill, the technique stuff is out the goddamn window, not only in sports, in life period. Blood and guts. Tore up (ph) daddy and make war. That's what we paid for and that's what we want. Well wait a minute. I've got a daughter, I've got a wife, that I want to be able to go to her teacher and talk to her without her thinking that I'm talking the Flintstones or Bugs Bunny of Elmer Fudd.

You will see a Bernard Hopkins that's going to carry out a fight to win. I will never, and I was taught this, don't blame it on me. Blame it on the teachers that I had over the past 20 years, you're not fighting for the fans. You're not fighting their plan. You're fighting our plan. And once you get caught up and you have to fight because the guy that's sitting ring side with the beer in his hand, who wants you to stop doing something that's working for you because he wants to see blood and guts, then you're not going with the plan. The plan is for professional guy to go in the ring and follow the plan, no matter what sport it is. The only sport that I see is boxing, that most people want the fighter to fight the way they feel he should fight. I think it's wrong. And I also think it's unfair, but I can deal with that.

You will see the Bernard Hopkins fight the fight that got him 20 defenses. You will see the fight that Bernard fought that had him undefeated over a decade, what was wrong with that? What was wrong with that? I got criticized for fights in between those fights in those years. This is bigger than just the fight. Everybody know about it. But I'm not here to talk about that, because then some will write, he's still back in the – no I'm not going to play that game on me. People say, I'd rather leave the history of the middleweight division just like it was so it could be the Ray Leonard and the Manny Tagli (ph) era. There's going to be controversy. It's going to be talked about. And you know what, they're going to mention my name again. Just don't go two fights. You're dealing with a 41 year old man with a 26 year old, young strong athlete that couldn't catch the old tiger. What do that say about Jermaine Tulla (ph). Bernard you're (INAUDIBLE), now you want to give me credit. When things ain't in your favor, now they want to give me credit. Well, you know, you're experienced, well I told you that. So damn if you do, as they say, damn if you don't. And it goes back to what I just said five minutes ago, you can't please outsiders. You'll never win in that game. You'll never win. It's a lose-lose situation.

ANWAR RICHARDSON: But you also have to please the judges too, don't you Bernard?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Well to a certain extent. I mean the judges have the right to view anything that they feel that they need to view. But in this situation where you yourself, and most people listen to this phone call have questioned a lot of people's decision on anything that said, wait a minute, what are they watching?

So I don't have defend what others are all ready defending on me. And what is important to me is what the fans think. So longs as I can walk in New Orleans, they say man, you know you won that fight. You know, it was all political. You know, they wanted this guy. You're young. You told them you was leaving. And I'm looking at this guy, I don't even know this guy in New Orleans, I'm taking a walk. This guy pulled over, he's giving me the run down. I said man, it's all right, man. I said what do you believe? He said man you a champ and I like how you having your business. I like how you stood up. They've been trying to get you for years. This is a guy in New Orleans for God's sake. Hey I can go to Arkansas and somebody might say that. I can go to L.A. and somebody might say that. That's the legacy that Bernard Hopkins has left amongst people in the world, is that that guy is a damn fighter, outside the ring, just as well as in the ring.

ANWAR RICHARDSON: Thank you, Bern.

BERNARD HOPKINS: You're welcome.

KELLY SWANSON: Operator, we're going to take two more questions, and then wrap up.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Thank you, Kelly.

KELLY SWANSON: OK. Just two more Bernard.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is coming from George Diaz with "Orlando Sentinel," please go ahead.

GEORGE DIAZ, "ORLANDO SENTINEL": Yes, Bernard, how are you?

BERNARD HOPKINS: Hey, I'm doing good.

GEORGE DIAZ: You talked – obviously in Tampa you talked at length, and you talked in other places about how prison and how that changed you and what not, and the path that you chose for yourself. Was there – Bernard, was there though a defining moment at some point while you were incarcerated that the light went on and it clicked and you realized that you needed to get yourself together or, you know, life was going to not be – end up well for you.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes, and it was totally the opposite of what most people watch TV, "OZ" (ph) on HBO or old prison story (ph). It wasn't that wake up call that I got. I speak at seminars, and schools and reform schools all around the world, I'm asked that question all of the time, and I don't mind answering it, because it's a great question. It's a question of the, in the know, they want to know.

And I said to them, prison didn't change Bernard Hopkins. People (INAUDIBLE), what do you mean. I said it was totally the opposite. I changed Bernard Hopkins. I rehabilitated myself. Well how did you do that, they ask. I said when I went to jail, it's like any other jail in the world. I see if they believe that they're going to keep coming back, when I say they, the people that benefit by me being incarcerated by my own ignorance and decisions. And I will not a (INAUDIBLE) to anyone.

It remind me of Ghandi or Michael Mecks (ph) or people that, Martin Luther King, that got incarcerated and somehow they found themselves and they seen that they had to be brought to a place because of their own ignorance. And I'm using me, because I don't think Ghandi (ph) or Martin Luther King was brought in because of their ignorance. They was representing what they believe. Well because of my ignorance, because I did what I did, I've seen a whole different picture. I've seen inmates with 10 to 15 years, whether they should have got it, or not got it, playing basketball, lifting weights, and realizing that they got 15 to life, 20 to life, and they had their table TV. They had their commissary once a week. They're talking about old stories when they was on the street. And at 17 years old I had the vision of an old man that say, wait a minute, you mean to tell me that part of my punishment is to get up at 5:30 in the morning, shackled to go out to a form to pick corn, because they don't have to hire private contractors, that will cost them a lot more money than they're paying me a month, which was $10 a week. And someone is making license plates for their job. Someone is making prison boots. Someone is making outside sneaks (ph) to be sold at outside venues. And I understood that every prison that I went to, it always was in a neighborhood that's somewhere miles and hours away from my house, and it's all coal township town that one time had a big booming industry of making coal, and they all sucked up and they needed industry now to generate revenue, and we generate revenue, generating plumbing and I was the blue chip (ph).

Well I said that the wake up call was Buddy (ph), is that I'm not going to be a part of this household. So that means that I, Bernard Hopkins will change my behavior once I get out, if I get out, because five years can be 20 years if you've got to defend yourself. Five years can be a death sentence if you get stabbed in the neck or the back and you get out of there, as they say if in case of an accident Mr. Hopkins, where would you like your body to be sent? Can you imagine getting an answer to that question at work? I'm only 17.

So what open – and I know I sound passionate about this, but I get like that sometimes. What opened my eyes wasn't prison is so rough it scared me. I came home and I walked off nine years of parole and never got in trouble. No, I would say, the first year was rough. The first year, if you've seen some of the HBO and behind the glory segments that they did on me, they did the 70 foot (INAUDIBLE) and the toughest john in Pennsylvania, they've got 38 of them, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, hard criminals. And the first thing I had to do, if you've seen the segment, I have it for you, or Kelly can get it to you, what did you do when you first went in? I had to find the toughest guy on the block and I had to knock him out, and that happened.

To gain respect, I had to go in D block, and find the toughest guy and find out through others who is running the show here. Why? Because you didn't want to become a soldier because most people want to be a follower, like society. There's more followers, than leaders, that's human nature. Nobody wants to stick their neck out and be sacrificed if it don't happen, if it don't work, but I always did. I did it in my career. Watch my career. I took the industry by the horns, and said I'm going to do it my way, stop me and (INAUDIBLE). I took that same mentality (INAUDIBLE), and relate it to my life (INAUDIBLE). And also, as a civilian. I found the toughest guy and he wasn't my size either. He was a big guy, like Tarver, maybe a little bigger. And he had more time than five years that I had, and I had to see him. That's where my integrity came from. And the next thing you know, I had all of this people, his flunkies, his cronies, they became my backing. Who is the crazy guy at 17 coming in there and do what he did, I want to be with him. Well that's where people are followers.

But then, I became not a negative force in prison, I box in prison they had a gym. I got (INAUDIBLE) back. They had boxing tournaments. We took on other penitentiaries. I got seniority in the gym, amongst the warden, amongst the prison guard. I became the James Scott (ph) of railways (ph) back in the '80s, and in this era, I won all of the middleweight championships in the Pennsylvania. I had lifers, guys that had serious crimes who wouldn't get in the ring with Bernard Hopkins. I gained respect. And I had the power to do negative things to people, that others did. I stopped people from getting raped. I stopped people from getting extorted. I stopped people from getting taken advantage. I mean he's a young guy. I mean leave that guy alone, man. No he owe me some money, he owe me some cigarettes. Come on now, that's part of the game. You make up a lie, saying a guy owe you something to justify why nobody else is sending him to you because you don't know if he did or didn't, but I know your reputation right. We've been on the block for eight – you've been on the block for eight years, I've been for three, leave him alone. All right, man, if it wasn't for you…

I took that mentality and said to myself, and to everybody I speak to, jail didn't change Bernard Hopkins. I rehabilitated myself because I had all of the luxuries of not at home. My mom couldn't afford HBO. I had it then. She had six kids and single parent. I go to jail, I'm like wait a minute, they've got HBO. I can watch the fights, they've got ESPN. This thing is structured as a business. I'm not blaming the people that's making business of it, because I blame myself for being an idiot to put myself in a position to be a 401 (k) or blue chip. Now can you imagine if 80 or 60 percent of the inmates think the way I think, a lot of people would have to find jobs. Jail became a multi billion dollar business, $50,000 to hold an inmate, one inmate and every state around the country is over populated in full. Do the math. You think that everybody wants a Bernard Hopkins coming out of prison and not going back? You must be out of your mind. You think that everybody really want the redemption of a Bernard Hopkins that never go back? It costs $50,000 plus to keep an inmate housed, just one. Can you imagine? I don't know where you live, but they've got a penitentiary there, and I guarantee you they're full. Fifty-thousand a head, add that up, do the math.

KELLY SWANSON: OK. That's it. Are you finished Bernard.

BERNARD HOPKINS: Yes. I'm ready to go to the gym and beat somebody up now.

KELLY SWANSON: OK, I can tell. My god, this is great. Oh my god, he's ready to rumble. OK, I said two questions, but I'm going to finish it here because Bernard does have to go and train and he's been gracious enough to give us much time today. So everybody, thank you for calling in. Thank you for listening. If you didn't have a chance to ask a question, immediately after the fight, you know, Mr. Hopkins will be more than happy to talk to you. In addition to that, we will have a transcript of this call to send out to everybody. If you have any other questions, feel free to call my office 202-783-5500. We look forward to seeing everyone next week at the fight. Again, I think thank Bernard Hopkins, Nazim Richardson, John David Jackson, Mackey Shilstone and Richard Schaefer for participating in today's call. OK. Thank you very much everybody. Have a good night. Bye, Bernard, thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. This does conclude today's Bernard Hopkins conference call. You may now disconnect and have a great evening.

Article posted on 02.06.2006



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