By Jackie Kallen
As a person who is getting up there in age, I was pulling for Bernard Hopkins to defeat Tavoris Cloud the other night. Not that I don’t like Cloud and was hoping he’d lose. It’s just that Bernard’s cheering section grows with each fight. If he continues fighting, by the time he hits 50 (in less than two years) he will have all of AARP and the entire medicare crowd on their feet screaming for him.
Photo: Tom Hogan/Golden Boy/ Hogan Photos
By beating Cloud, Hopkins became the oldest boxer to win a major title. This was not just a win for Bernard Hopkins. This was a win for all athletes who are being judged as “over the hill” or beyond their prime. George Foreman was champion at 45, but retired at 48. Hopkins has not hung them up yet and doesn’t seem inclined to do so.
Older athletes are either met with disdain by the younger studs who feel they should retire, or are revered by those who respect their skills and conditioning. Just ask George Blanda, who played pro football at 48 years old. That is a tough sport for twenty-somethings. Hard to imagine a body almost 50 years old withstanding that brutality.
Satchel Paige continued to play baseball until he was in his late fifties. That is crazy by today’s standards. Gordie Howe played pro hockey at 52 and Saoul Mamby fought until he was 60 years old. I’m not sure how he got licensed, but he loved competing and did it until he could no longer be effective.
Bernard Hopkins is an anomaly. He is a freak of nature. Considering that his late mother urged him to get out by the time he turned 40, he is a maverick as well. He follows his own internal voice and will only retire when he is good and ready.
This win is even more impressive considering the fact that he lost his last outing to Chad Dawson in April 2012 and had most of us believing that his number was up.Boy did he prove everyone wrong. There is obviously a lot of gas left in the old tank.
I can only imagine how devastated Tavoris Cloud must feel after being beaten by a man old enough to be his father. Hopkins took him to school and showed him that punching power is useless when you can’t apply it. Cloud’s frustration showed and by the end of the fight, the 48 year-old looked fresher than the 31 year old.
Score this one as a victory for all of us who still feel that we can do it. Whatever “it” is–age is not a barrier. It is just presents a challenge.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen