Boxing champ, former Battling Bull Bernard Hopkins inspires Glen Mills students

Boxing champ, former Battling Bull Bernard Hopkins inspires Glen Mills students

   “Glen Mills Schools has a lot of hidden gems and jewels that will be discovered,” former Glen Mills student and boxing legend Bernard Hopkins said of the student body during a recent Character and Leadership Development Program event on July 10th.

      Joe Hand, Sr., owner of the venerable Joe Hand Gym in Philadelphia, played a big hand in having the former Battling Bull return to the school to inspire the student body- the hidden gems and jewels that Hopkins talked about. Joe Hand, Jr., President of the Board of Managers at the Glen Mills Schools, introduced the champ to the crowd.
     Hand, Jr. said that Hopkins is more than just a boxing great.
     “The thing that has always impressed me the most is when I have been with Bernard is the man that he is outside of the ring,” Hand, Jr. told the audience. “He always has time to give back.”
     “The Executioner,” who also went by the ringname “The Alien,” urged the students to value themselves.
     “Find out what motivates you and pushes you to do right,” the Philadelphia native said. “You must know your value and then tap into your value.”
     Hopkins said that mistakes are normal but that you have to learn from them and keep missteps to a minimum.
      “Our mistakes and bad decisions are a part of life but I hope that throughout your journey, you can minimize your mistakes…I learned late but I was a quick learner,” Hopkins, who was a student at Glen Mills in the early 1980s, told the students.
     The former undisputed middleweight champion shared his incredible journey to boxing greatness to the student body, faculty, guests, and others during his hour-long presentation.
     Through hard work and diligence, Hopkins became the IBF middleweight champion in 1995 with a seventh round technical knockout of Segundo Mercado and enjoyed a remarkable career as he fought until he was more than fifty years old. Along the way and always in incredible shape, Hopkins compiled a 55-8-2 record with two no decisions. He won 32 of those fights by knockouts.
     Hopkins, who said he learned discipline and winning at Glen Mills, was the first undisputed middleweight champion since Marvin Hagler and successfully defended his title for twenty consecutive fights. He also claimed the WBC middleweight belt by defeating Keith Jones. Hopkins also held the WBA crown after beating Felix Trinidad in 2001 and held Ring Magazine’s light heavyweight title in 2006. Additionally, the incredibly gifted fighter won the WBO title with a victory over Oscar De La Hoya in 2004.
     At the age of 46, he was the oldest titleholder in boxing history and is currently business partners with De La Hoya.
     Hopkins said that sports and life go together. “But don’t continue to play a game that you’re not going to win,” Hopkins said as he urged the students to stay away from the streets.
     The gifted speaker closed his presentation with a great piece of advice for the current student body.
     “Glen Mills didn’t give up on me and I didn’t give up on myself,” Hopkins said.  “…But take advantage of everything the school has to offer because you will need it.”
     Hopkins’ message resonated with the students.
     “Him coming here and speaking from the heart showed me that I can be successful as well because he was in the same position I am,” McKinley Hall student James Dantzler said.  “He was very inspiring and genuine.”

Photo by student James Dantzler

Editor’s Note: Journalism student Walter Fitzpatrick contributed to this story.