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Bernard Hopkins: Punching The Clock

At 49, Bernard Hopkins is not ready to hang up his gloves. “I’m at my peak,” says the 27-year boxing veteran who—for the third time—became the oldest boxer to win a world title this April. Hopkins, who is also part owner of Golden Boy Promotions, explains what keeps him going and why he wants to step into the ring with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

JET: What is your secret to staying in shape?

Bernard Hopkins: I have a tradition that my trainer and team do. I go back into the gym, if I’m capable that Monday or Tuesday to shake out. I never get out of shape. I just don’t stop working out. It’s a lifestyle. I fought Saturday and Monday I was in a gym. This is not in-the-gym boxing and getting hit. I had enough of that for eight weeks. This is cardio, sweating and working my body muscles. But, it has been years and years of doing things that I’ve always preached about and stood tall about.  I’m really now getting the interest of a great investment. I just happen to be a professional fighter, but if you take that away tomorrow I’m still going to stay the course with exercise and eating right.

JET: How have you been able to be so disciplined?

BH: I am preaching about my lifestyle, not just my skills. Obviously people do things they know is bad, like smoking or drinking, but they can’t break the habit. Some people drink once or twice or month. I don’t think that is bad, but when I was younger I drank beer and 40s, and I come from a family where both parents left this earth before they were 60 and they were really heavy drinkers. So [abstaining from alcohol] is personal for me.

Now, I live totally different from the first half of my life.  I came up in a household with six siblings and to see the lifestyle I was introduced to food-wise… All but most of us in the inner-city come from a lack of information. Some don’t want the information.

JET: Can you give me an example of some of the things you eat that help you stay fit?

BH: It takes you to know what is good to put in your body and what is not. But for the past 27 years, I’ve been eating baked and broiled fish. No fried food and no or low processed foods. No alcohol. If it needs to be sautéed, I use olive and coconut oil. I do cook most of my food, if not all of it myself. I’m a really good cook. I like to not only cook on the grill, but also dishes.

I eat a lot of vegetables. I make smoothies and shakes on processors. I love that stuff. I have four machines. Because I travel, I would take one with me and forget it. So I said to myself I’ll get one for every home I own and one for traveling so I don’t worry about calling the kitchen at hotels. I don’t have to worry about somebody making it. I can get it any time I want it.

JET: What do you eat for protein?

BH: Fish and chicken are something I eat for protein. But meat is still important to me because even though you can enjoy your food with liquids, we have teeth because God didn’t make any mistakes. There are health benefits to the natural chewing process. Over the last four years, I’ve been really hooked on deer meat. Venice. Deers are one of the leanest animals. They don’t eat any meat. I got a guy outside of Philadelphia and he gets a whole deer for me. He cuts it in pieces. He tags what part of the deer it is and bags it. I broil that with a light soy sauce, and let it marinate overnight. Definitely no frying, maybe I’ll sauté it a little bit to get a glaze with coconut oil.

JET: Why is this so important to you?

BH: My goal is to preserve what is inside because whatever is in will reflect out eventually. I figure if I learn this early in my career, then I’ll be successful long term. I didn’t expect to be boxing at 40-something years old, but I am basically at my peak right now. I know that is scary to some people.

JET: Is your healthy lifestyle the reason why you are able to defeat fighters who are decades younger than you?

BH: Yes, and I’m getting better. I think quicker and faster because, I don’t have to be wasting punches. I don’t have time to be hot dogging around wasting energy. I get right to my business and I do what I got to do. That’s the boxing version, but it still works in the life version. I’ve been making investments, sacrificing and being disciplined enough to go the long haul.

JET: You want to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. Do you think that’s likely to happen?

BH: Like Floyd said, “Anything is possible.” After Mayweather fights Marcos Maidana, who would you like to see him fight that you care about? Nobody, right? Not a lot of fans will be excited to watch a fight knowing there is no threat there.

JET: Why would they want to see him fight you?

BH: [I am a threat!] I’ve beat a lot of undisputed fighters and a lot of fighters’ careers haven’t been the same. I’m not bragging, but I’ve been an underdog in major fights that I wasn’t supposed to win, but I won. These are the things that get my juices up. I’ve been in the game too long to keep fighting fights that don’t mean anything.

But before anything happens, I will beat Adonis Stevenson and I will be the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world, like I was the middleweight champion 15 years ago. I’ll make history and then I will do the most cap-off thing that I can do for my career, which is beat the best pound-for-pound man on the planet right now, which is Floyd Mayweather Jr. It’s nothing personal, just that I like to match my chess board skills with another chess board playing person. Who wouldn’t be there for that fight? It would be the biggest urban fight since Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard.

JET: You are physically larger than Floyd Mayweather Jr. Would a match against him be fair?

BH: People forget I moved up two weight classes, which no one had ever done. Before I fought Antonio Tarver, I dominated the middle weight division and made 20 defenses. I broke records and set records that no one will do in boxing until I’m dead. I put on 15 pounds and I whooped Tarver’s butt. So, it won’t be difficult for Mayweather, who boxes at 154 pounds, to go up to 162 pounds. It is more advantageous to put on muscle than to drop it. But I will have to lose weight on 3 percent body fat. I’m not a fat bloated guy, so I have to do some work. So I say to Mayweather, let’s give the boxing world one of the biggest fights ever.