Bernard Hopkins takes off the gloves

The veteran champ reveals that he didn't diet to get in shape for The Body Issue

Originally Published: June 26, 2014
By Morty Ain | ESPN The Magazine

This is an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2014. Subscribe today!

I'm an alien. Being able to do what I do in the ring and out of the ring is evidence that I'm not from this world. I'm less than seven months away from being 50 years old and representing a sport that normally has "young" written all over it. To be where I'm at now -- competing against fighters who could be my kids and are half my age -- any other reason would be suspect. But I'm not suspect. I am the alien.

I understand humans but they don't understand me.

What's a diet? I don't have a diet. Jenny Craig got a diet. Seriously. I eat to live, not to die. Put that quote down there: I eat to live, not to die. A diet is going to win; it will every time.

I see prison as a business more than a punishment. I realized that it cost $60,000 for me to be in prison. And I started saying to myself, "Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that for me to be here that I employ all these people -- the guards, the social worker, the nurse, kitchen worker, the warden? You mean to tell me from my ignorance, I employ people? And the taxpayers paid $60,000 per head, per customer? And there's 3,500 inmates in this place?" I said, "Whoa, I can't be a part of this hustle." I never looked back, man. It's been 26 years.

There is no secret. It's more of a discipline, more of a lifestyle. When someone sees me and they don't know anything about boxing, they never ever can imagine that I am almost 50 and competing and winning and a two-time champion headed to be three before the end of this year. It is well-documented how I treat my body. If you read Bernard Hopkins name in the dictionary, the definition would be "discipline."

Hit them before they hit me. That's my philosophy on fighting.

The gods of the world with the pens say I play mental games. I hear reporters say that. But mental don't have anything to do with physical. If I can convince you that I'm going to beat you up and you believe me, that's your fault.

People that are afraid of age are afraid of life. They are afraid of time. I'm not afraid of these things -- for what?

My screen saver is a mug shot of me in 1984. I look older there than I look now. The drinking, smoking weed, hanging out, cheesesteaks, hoagies, hamburgers, cheese fries -- that's it. That's the answer right there.

I wasn't a good guy. Just plain and simple. I was just as disciplined in boxing the past two and a half decades as I was undisciplined on the streets of Philadelphia. I wasn't a good guy. I'm going to leave it at that.

I have two stab marks on my back from when I was a teenager. I got stabbed in Philadelphia. I had a punctured lung, and I had to stay in the hospital to drain the fluid out. I had a machine attached to me, a tube running through my chest -- boom -- 30 days. That was when I was in my teens; I remember it like it was two days ago. That was the worst experience.

I pamper myself. I get my facials, I get my nails done. I got a pedicure yesterday. I take care of myself like I take care of my car. If the service light comes on, I get the oil changed. What's wrong with that thinking? It's called thinking ahead.

I normally drink my vegetables. I stay away from processed foods. I don't eat pork, red meat or dairy. However, I probably have to go to cheesecake rehab. That's my treat and that's my weakness.

Before a fight, don't eat nothing too tart. Or too creamy. Can you imagine if you got an upset stomach and you've got to use the restroom and you're in the eighth round?

I don't let a car make me. I don't let a suit make me. I don't let money make me. I don't need to have things to make who I am -- to build character and to talk a certain way. But everybody ain't like that.

You think it's hard for me when I go in the ring and fight? That's the least of my problems. I think about the five years that I did in prison. I think about the nine years on parole. Nothing -- nothing! -- can compare to that struggle. I'm telling you, from being an ex-convict with 30 convictions, a degree nowhere to be found and black? I'm done.

What's a diet? I don't have a diet. Jenny Craig got a diet. I eat to live, not to die.

I don't even like wine on my shrimp scampi. I don't drink. I don't drink occasionally. I don't drink on holidays. I don't drink on anniversaries. I don't drink, period.

I'd rather have eight abs than six. That's what I'd change about myself.

I don't like buying clothes all the time. I got tailored suits, and I can always fit in them. I fight at 175. Three weeks after my fight in DC, I was 175! I was 179 yesterday. Don't you know that 99 percent of fighters go up 30 pounds after a fight? I can wear suits from three years ago. And I'm saving money. See my mindset?

A lot of people around me died before the age of 50. My parents died before the age of 60. They didn't have a lifestyle of what I'm talking about right now. Staying healthy, and keeping my brain active -- constantly reading books and figuring out crossword puzzles to keep that muscle energized. Not eating bad foods, processed foods.

I told you I'm not human.

Bernard HopkinsMax Vadukul

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