Tag Archives: Bernard Hopkins

Black Girl Magic, LeBron James, Deaths of Sports Icons Defined 2016 Sports Year

30 Dec
simonebiles

Simon Biles won gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Last Hurrah for Ryan Howard and Bernard Hopkins, LeBron James-Male Athlete of the Year 

By Chris Murray                                                                                                                 

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on about 2016, it was a year where the one constant was death.

While the pop culture world got hit the hardest with the losses of such icons as Prince and David Bowie, the Sporting World got knocked around a bit as well. We lost boxing icon

ImustbetheGreatest

Muhammad Ali Shook up the world with his stunning upset of Sonny Liston in 1964. His death in 2016 highlighted was the most visible in  year when a number icons in sports and entertainment passed away.

Muhammad Ali this year. The General of Arnie’s Army, golf legend Arnold Palmer, also left us. So did basketball coach extraordinaire Pat Summit and former Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan.

Even sports media felt the sting with the losses of John Saunders, host of ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” and Craig Sager, easily the most colorful man in the NBA.

Although we’re still in mourning over the loss of these shining stars, and cherishing the memories of their brilliance, the Sporting World gave us more than a few reasons to cheer in 2016. It was an up year for some and a down year for others, but one thing it wasn’t was boring.

Here’s a look at 2016 in Sports…

One Last Hurrah for the Big Piece: Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard played his last season in a Phillies uniform in 2016. Photo by Webster Riddick.

This year, we said goodbye to a man who played a big part in breaking Philadelphia’s longtime championship drought, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.

Because 2016 marked the end of his contract, Howard will be a free agent and will most likely leave the team that he led with his bat from 2005 to 2016.

During his tenure with the Phillies, Howard’s ability to hit towering home runs and drive in runs helped lead the team to the 2008 World Series title, two National League pennants, and five consecutive National League East titles.  Howard was the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 National League Championship Series and was also winner of the National League Rookie of the Year, and National League MVP awards.

Unfortunately, a combination of age, injuries and a team in rebuilding mode mandated that Howard and the Phillies part ways. Howard will most likely play for someone else and while it’s a shame that he won’t be allowed to retire here, Phillies fans will always appreciate the Glory Days he brought to the franchise.

The Year of Black Girl Magic

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Claire Smith is the first woman to receive the Baseball Hall of Fame’s A.G. Spink Award and will be honored during in Hall of Fame weekend in July. Photo courtesy ESPN.com

In December, former Philadelphia Inquirer baseball columnist Claire Smith became the first woman to win the prestigious J.G. Taylor Spink Award from Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. She was honored for her pioneering work, which included paving the way for women to enter MLB locker rooms to do interviews, just like their male counterparts.

That Smith received the award this year makes perfect sense because 2016 was the year that the Sporting World was hit with all kinds of Black Girl Magic.

Black female athletes from Africa and the African Diaspora (which includes the United States and the Caribbean), served notice to the world that they were a force to be reckoned with, most prominently during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

There, Black women excelled in everything. And I do mean everything.

Gymnast Simone Biles was named the Associated Press’s Female Athlete of the Year.

If you watched one minute of her gymnastic performances during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the reason she won this award became obvious.

The diminutive Texan was the darling of the games, leading the Final Five—Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, Aly Reisman, and 2012 Individual all-around Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas—to a team Gold Medal and also winning three individual gold medals including the individual all-around. Biles stunning performances in the floor exercise dazzled audiences around the world and her grace and athleticism were definitely a joy to watch.

But while she responsible for a nice chunk of the Black Girl Magic on display in Rio, Biles was only the beginning. Black women also showed that they could excel in places they’re not normally associated with like the swimming pool and fencing ring.

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Simone Manuel became the first Black American woman to win a gold medal in swimming at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,

Stanford University’s Simone Manuel became the first Black woman to win a gold medal in swimming when she tied with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak to win the 100-meter freestyle, setting Olympic and American records in the process. She also helped the 4X100 meter medley relay team take home a gold medal and won silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4X100 meter freestyle relay.

Elsewhere in the water, Ashleigh Johnson, the first Black woman to make the U.S. Water Polo team, helped lead the team to a gold medal. In the gold medal game against Italy, Johnson, the team’s goalie, had eight saves.

Ibtihaj Muhammad made news when she competed with the U.S. Sabre Fencing team while wearing the hijab of her Muslim faith. The team took home a bronze medal and Muhammad’s performance showed that you can be an observant Muslim and an athlete simultaneously.

But while Black women in non-traditional sports took center stage, that didn’t mean that Black women didn’t continue to excel in places where they’ve traditionally ruled, such as in track and field. Led by the United States, the Bahamas, Colombia, Jamaica and the African continent, Black women won gold medals in all but three track and field events at the Olympics.

From Michelle Carter’s gold in the shot put to Brianna Rollins, Kristi Castlin and Philadelphia’s own Nia Ali sweeping the 100-meter hurdles to the exploits of the Jamaican track team, Black women showed, to paraphrase Emmy-award winning actress Viola Davis, that all that’s needed for them to excel is opportunity. They made the most of it…and then some.

All Hail The King (James)

LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, center, celebrates with teammates after Game 7 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 19, 2016. The Cavaliers won 93-89. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

With the Cleveland Cavaliers went down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, LeBron James put his Cleveland Cavaliers on his back and helped them win three-straight elimination games to give the City of Cleveland its first pro sports title since 1964.

James, the Associated Press’s Male Athlete of the Year, became the Finals Most Valuable Player by performing the historical feat of leading in scoring, rebounding, steals, blocked shots, and assists. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that it’s something that neither Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson nor the athlete James compared to most often, Michael Jordan, was able to do.

They’re all Hall of Famers. This year, his achievements put LeBron James in the same rarefied air.

No Joy In Mudville

ben-simmons

Can Ben Simmons lead the 76ers back to glory? He was the Sixers No. 1 draft pick in 2016.

Because the Philadelphia Eagles, the Phillies, the 76ers, and the Philadelphia Flyers are all in some form of rebuilding mode, the closest that Philadelphia sports fans got to the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup was the couch in front of their television sets.

While the Eagles, who will miss the NFL playoffs for the third straight year, made some noise when rookie Carson Wentz went undefeated in his first three starts, they came back to earth with a deafening thud after the bye week. Coming into the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, Wentz has completed 62 percent of his passes for 3, 537 yards with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

The Sixers also gave their fans hope by picking LSU’s Ben Simmons with their first-round lottery pick. The good news is, Simmons can handle and pass the ball like Magic Johnson.

The bad news is, and this should be no surprise to Sixers fans, he’s injured. And as if often is in Sixers World, it’s a foot injury.

But there is some hope for optimism now that Joel Embiid has finally recovered from his foot injury and has emerged as the team’s best big man.

Villanova Wins the National Championship, Penn Wins Ivy League Crown, Penn State Temple Football Bowl Bound Again

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Villanova won its first national championship since 1985 with a buzzer-beater win over North Carolina.

In one of the most exciting games in the history of the NCAA Tournament, the Villanova Wildcats won the men’s basketball national championship on a last-second three-point shot by Kris Jenkins.  It was probably the greatest championship game of all time and they were honored by the city with a parade down Broad Street. Although I know one Philly sports fan who thinks that parade should have gone to an actual Philly team, but the Wildcats do play some of  their games at the Wells Fargo Center and they were embraced by the entire Delaware Valley during their run to the title.

Like, for example the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and the Temple University Owls.

For the second straight season, the Quakers won a share of the Ivy League football title. They became league co-champs with Princeton by defeating Cornell University 42-40. Junior running back Tre Solomon gained 173 yards to lead the 7-3 (6-1 in the Ivy League) Quakers.

The Owls proved that the team’s 2015 football season was no fluke by winning the American Athletic Conference championship with a 34-10 win over Navy and notching it’s second straight 10-win season. The effort was enough to get head coach Matt Rhule noticed by the Big 12’s Baylor University, and he left to try and salvage a program that’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the last couple of years. The Owls also lost the Military Bowl to Wake Forest when the comeback they were mounting fell short.

But this doesn’t take anything away from an outstanding year for the Owls. If anything, it gives new Temple head coach Geoff Collins something to shoot for.

The much-maligned James Franklin became the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year by leading the Nittany Lions of Penn State to the Big Ten Football Championship. The team scored a come from behind win against Wisconsin thanks to the performance of running back Saquon Barkley and a stout defense. While many thought that Penn State should have gotten into the College  Football Playoff thanks to its victory over Ohio State, the teams two losses mean they’ll be going to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day against the University of Southern California.

Bernard Hopkins Falls to Father Time

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Bernard Hopkins looked as old as the 51-year-old man he is in his loss to Joe Smith Jr. Photo courtesy of sportingnews.com

After getting literally knocked out of the ring by Joe Smith Jr. in his most recent fight, some say it should be.

From the moment he turned 40, Hopkins has waged a valiant and sometimes successful against Father Time.  But in the end, the 51-year-old Hopkins found out what every athlete eventually does: time is undefeated.

While Hopkins hasn’t said whether or not he’ll retire, the prevailing hope is that he will. To do otherwise will probably do him more harm than good long term.

Like I said, 2016 has been an up and down year. But now that it’s over, it’ll be interesting to see what 2017 will bring to the Sporting World.

No matter what it is, I’ll have it for you.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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Father Time Wins Again: Time for Hopkins To Say Goodbye for Good

23 Dec
bernard-hopkins

Bernard Hopkins looked as old as the 51-year-old man he is in his loss to Joe Smith Jr. Photo courtesy of sportingnews.com

When Bernard Hopkins was literally knocked out of the ring last weekend,  he learned that even his arms are too short to box with the ravages of time. 

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
About 10 years ago, I did a phone interview with former HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant as part of my coverage of the International Boxing Organization light heavyweight title fight between Philadelphia boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, who was 40-something at the time, and a younger, faster Antonio Tarver.

At the time, I thought that Father Time would keep Hopkins from winning that fight and asked Merchant what it might finally take to convince Hopkins to finally retire from the ring. In order for him to do that, Merchant said, someone would have to “beat him up”.
It took another 10 years, but last weekend it happened.

After a successful career of standing toe-to-toe against a combination of Father Time and guys half his age, Bernard Hopkins finally got “beat up”. In what is hopefully the final fight of a Hall of Fame career, Hopkins lost to light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. by TKO in the eighth-round.

The outcome of the fight was about as embarrassing as it was sad for the now 51-year-old Hopkins as his much younger opponent literally knocked him out of the ring. With that, Father Time helped add Hopkins to the long list of legendary pugilists who mistakenly believed that greatness is immortal.

With all due respect to the man who once dominated the middleweight division and has won a few titles as a light heavyweight, Hopkins looked exactly like the elderly, 50-something fighter he is as Smith pummeled him all over the ring.

It reminded me of the reasons why I refused the offer of a ticket to a closed circuit screening of the Muhammad Ali/ Larry Holmes fight in 1981. I couldn’t stand to see a great fighter when he wasn’t great anymore. If I had gone to that fight, the guys would have been called me an oversensitive punk because I would have been crying like a baby.

It was the same way with Sugar Ray Leonard when he lost to Terry Norris. I’ve also seen film of guys like Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis fighting when they were well past their prime. It’s often sad and hard to watch because you remember when they were kings and when were so invincible in the conquest of their opposition.

Hopkins needed to go out as a conquering hero the way former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis did when he led the Ravens to the Super Bowl back in 2012. Instead, Hopkins took to the ring as a shadow of his former self and showed that he just didn’t have it.

On one hand, you have to admire Hopkins for doing something he loves even at his advanced age. He was beating up younger guys when he was in his 40s, which further cemented his legend. He had overcome the rough streets of North Philadelphia, a stint in Graterford Prison and a host of other challenges to become one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the history of the sport. He was on his way to being a first-ballot Boxing Hall of Famer even without the victories he had as a 40-year-old man.

He has nothing else to prove, and I hope that if nothing else, Hopkins most recent defeat shows that to him. He doesn’t need to humiliate himself like that again.

In fact, he’s probably making more money watching other guys fight through his work with Golden Boy Promotions.

Given what happened to Ali when he hung around too long, it might be time that Hopkins stops hanging on to his youth and allows himself to live in our memories as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

His family deserves the best years of the rest of his life.

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali Transcended Boxing

10 Jun

Muhammad Ali:1942-2016

ImustbetheGreatest

Muhammad Ali Shook up the world with his stunning upset of Sonny Liston in 1964. He held the heavyweight title three times.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Boxing fans around the world are mourning the death of three-time heavyweight champion of the world Muhammad Ali.

Even in the city of Brotherly Love, the hometown of Joe Frazier, his fiercest rival, people are paying tribute to a fighter who transcended sports.

“Muhammad Ali was an exceptional and extraordinary individual,” said Rudy Battle, chairman of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. “He was a superlative victor and exemplified the true meaning of the “People’s Champion”. He always took time to recognize his fans.”

Ali was a force to be reckoned with both inside and outside the ring.  As a boxer, Ali had a stinging left jab along with the hand speed and lateral movement with his feet of a welterweight and a middleweight. Some boxing experts described him as a Sugar Ray Robinson at the heavyweight level.

Charlie “Mickey” Thomas was one of Ali’s sparring partners and had been friends with the champ since the two of them were teammates on the 1960 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team. Thomas gave Ali credit  for revitalizing a sport ravaged by it’s control by organized crime.

“When (Ali) was boxing, boxing sucked,” Thomas said. “It was a terrible time, It was run by the mob … and Ali put the sport back in boxing. Look at what he did for the sport.”

“None of the heavyweights fighting now have Ali’s quickness,” said former world middleweight and light middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. “He was like the Fred Astaire of boxing.”

Outside the ring, Ali became a polarizing figure with his membership in the Nation of Islam and by refusing induction into the United States Army based on his religious beliefs and the idea that African-Americans were mistreated at home.

“I can talk all day about what Ali did inside the ring,” said former world middleweight and light middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, “but what he did outside the ring was even more profound. Thirty and 40 years from now we’re still going to be talking about Muhammad Ali.”

Hopkins said it took tremendous courage for Ali to stand up for his principles at a time when African-Americans were getting murdered for participating in Civil Rights demonstrations across the country. Just like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were eventually assassinated, Ali faced the real danger of someone shooting him down.

“He sacrificed a lot because there was bullet out there with his name on it,” Hopkins said.

Thomas, who is white and served in the U.S. Army Special Forces, said he agreed with Ali refusing induction into the military because of his religious beliefs and felt he was being true to himself.

“Muhammad Ali was the only truly conscientious objector I knew,” Thomas said. “He believed in what he was doing. I don’t find a lot of Baptists or Catholics who do that.”

When it comes to the legacy of Black athletes who speak out on controversial issues like LeBron James wearing a hoodie as a protest against the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Hopkins said the media shuts down Black athletes who speak out on controversial issues.

“You can get the media to assassinate them now and kill them that way,” Hopkins said.

In addition to standing up for his rights with respect to his religion and for African-Americans, Ali also stood up against the exploitation of fighters by unscrupulous managers and promoters, Battle said. The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which was signed into law in 2000, is designed to protect fighters from unfair business practices by promoters.

“He fought for the equality of boxers and established the Muhammad Ali Law,’ which prevents an individual from both promoting and managing a boxer simultaneously, thereby, eliminating total control of a boxer,” Battle said.

Thomas said Ali had a big heart and his best memories of him were of his willingness to give of himself, especially when the media wasn’t present.

“It was kindness to people without the knowledge of the media. He did a lot for people and he gave a lot of money away and he helped many, many people,” Thomas said.

As someone who grew up in North Philly, Ali had a profound influence on young boxers who tried to emulate the way he fought, his trash talking and his self-confidence.  Ali was as much a hero to young people in Philadelphia as Frazier, Hopkins said.

“Part of my demeanor and attitude in the ring came from wanting to be like Muhammad Ali,” Hopkins said. “You had a lot of young North Philly talking trash against each other, doing the Ali Shuffle. He was our hero.”

 

Can Bernard Hopkins Stop Hard-Hitting Sergey Kovalev?

7 Aug

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Bernard Hopkins will take on unbeaten Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight unification bout sometime in November. Photo by Chris Murray.

Bernard Hopkins will take on unbeaten Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight unification bout sometime in November. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—For his latest age-defying act against “Father Time” in the square circle, the 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins will take on rising unbeaten World Boxing Organization champion Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev in a light-heavyweight unification bout.

Hopkins, who now calls himself the “Alien,” is looking to beat up on another younger, stronger,faster fighter. But this fight, which is scheduled to place in November either at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City or the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn —two months before his 50th birthday (Jan.15), might be the toughest in his continuing battle against aging in the ring.

Unbeaten WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is fresh off a second round knockout of Blake Caparello on Aug. 2.

Unbeaten WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is fresh off a second round knockout of Blake Caparello on Aug. 2.

Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 knockouts) is fresh off a devastating second-round knockout of previously unbeaten Australian Blake Caparello. In that fight, Kovalev bounced back from a flash knockdown by Caparello and then knocked him down three times before the referee called a halt to the bout at the 1:47 mark of the second round.

What makes Kovalev a tough matchup for Hopkins is that he might be the hardest puncher that the age-defying Hopkins has met at this stage of his career.

Kovalev is a methodical, straight forward fighter who can hurt you with either hand. The unbeaten Russian is a disciplined fighter who can break another fighter down by going to the body before going to the head. The first knockdown against Caparello was the result of a devastating right to the body that was pretty much the beginning of the end.

The 31-year-old native of Cheylabinsk, Russia, has knocked out his last nine opponents.

But Hopkins, who holds the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association light heavyweight titles, has been in the ring against several hard-charging, hard punching fighters like Kelly Pavlik and Antonio Tarver and has come out of those battles victorious.

Hopkins seems to relish those matches against aggressive young fighters who like to come forward so he can so he can find their weaknesses and take advantage of them. That’s why Hopkins is confident that he will get the same result against the hard-punching Kovalev and the be the oldest boxer to hold an undisputed title.

“I’ve set and broken many records, but becoming the oldest undisputed light heavyweight champion is the goal and Kovalev stands in the way of that goal,” Hopkins said. “He’s another young, hungry and just like the ones that came before him, he will leave the ring beltless.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to never to underestimate guts and guile of Hopkins. I have counted him out on numerous occasions as being too old. I have also predicted that there was going to come a point to where he was going to age in the ring.

But the crazy part about is that Hopkins has managed to prove me and several of his critics wrong more often than naught. Heck, even in his losses he hasn’t been beaten to a pulp. He has had very few cuts on his face and hasn’t been staggered or knocked down.

The big question here is whether or not Hopkins vast defensive skills and experience will be enough to withstand the vicious onslaught of Kovalev. This is a guy who has enough power in both hands to either knock another fighter into next week or have him eating soup for a few weeks with a vicious shot to the body.

“He says he is alien. He punch, I punch, then we see who gonna go to Mars,” Kovalev said.

While it’s easy for us to wonder why the hell Hopkins is back in the ring at his age in another battle against a younger, stronger, faster fighter capable of hastening his retirement with one punch, you have to give Hopkins credit for making it interesting.

It’s like an addictive reality show because with Hopkins you want to know what’s going to happen next.

 

 

 

 

 

Hopkins Wants to Fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.

25 Apr

Boxing’s Oldest Champ wants  to unify light heavyweight crowns and then wants  a shot at Pretty Boy Floyd 

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Bernard Hopkins was back in the gym in this week after last Saturday's win over Beibut Shuemenov. Photo by Chris Murray.

Bernard Hopkins was back in the gym in this week after last Saturday’s win over Beibut Shuemenov. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—The one thing you will not see in this column about Bernard Hopkins is a line that talks about his defying the boundaries of age because with all his accomplishments in recent years.
It’s an old story, and telling it has gotten old as well.

I’m also getting out of the business of pleading with Hopkins, who turns 50 in January, to get out of the boxing game. Yes, he’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer as a boxer and a promoter who doesn’t have to prove a damn thing to anybody, but if he wants to keep taking (and giving) the punches, who am I to judge?
Besides, the real story with the legendary Philly fighter is always about what’s next. Nearly 48 hours after he easily dispatched Beibut Shumenov to unify half of the world light-heavyweight championship, Hopkins was training at Joe Hand’s Gym in North Philadelphia and talking about plans for future fights.

“It’s never a time to rest, especially in victory,” Hopkins said. “That’s the time to work harder and smarter …What fighter in the last 30-40 years that’s publicly made it known, win, lose or draw, that he’s in the gym Monday? This ain’t showing off, this ain’t bragging, this is what I do.”

As he approaches 50 with strands of gray popping out of his unshaven face, Hopkins wants to become the undisputed light-heavyweight champion.

And just for the sport of it, Hopkins wants to drop down in weight and take on Floyd Mayweather Jr., arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the history of the sport and definitely the greatest of his generation.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Hopkins, who now calls himself, “The Alien”; wants a shot at Mayweather, who currently holds the World Boxing Council welterweight and World Boxing Association super welterweight championship belts.

“Yes, if it’s an opportunity to fight the baddest, one of the smartest minds, along with myself, in the game…Listen, why wouldn’t a chess player love to take on another good chess player?” Hopkins asked rhetorically.

If Hopkins gets into the ring with Mayweather, they would probably fight at 154 pounds. Hopkins said he would be able to handle that weight because he fought as Oscar De La Hoya at 154 pounds when he was the world middleweight champion.

By the way, Hopkins won that fight with a 9th-round knockout. I know that was 10 years ago. But after watching Hopkins beat up younger fighters like Antonio Tarver and Kelly Pavlik, I’ve learned to never the count the old man out.

But while he wants to take on Mayweather, who will defend his welterweight crown against Marcos Maidana on May 3, Hopkins won’t be sitting idly by. His next goal is to unify the light-heavyweight crown by taking on unbeaten World Boxing Council champion and Ring Magazine titleholder Adonis Stevenson (23-0-1 with 20 KOs).

“I’m collecting belts in the process, I’m not sitting back there, getting fat and eating bon-bons,” said Hopkins, who owns the International Boxing Council and the World Boxing Association titles. “I’m making history, too. It’s not like I’m waiting around doing the Amir Khan thing , ‘Please give me a shot and all that stuff.

“I’m going to continue being “The Alien,” and make history. The one guy out there that’s been knocking everybody’s heads off is Adonis Stevenson. …He’s a dangerous puncher. …Any second, any chance you get hit by him, you’re going to sleep. I need that risk to be in the game at this level.”

In addition to being a crafty fighter in the ring, Hopkins is pretty good at promoting and creating storylines.

In the scenario he’s set up, Hopkins would beat Stevenson. After that, he’d take on Mayweather (45-0) who is five fights away from breaking Rocky Marciano’s record for the most wins without a loss.

“Fifty-Fifty promotions,” Hopkins said. “He has a chance to get 50 wins, I turn 50. Fifty-Fifty promotions. …I want to show that I’m the first 50-year-old to be the baddest man and biggest paying guy in the boxing business. Wouldn’t that be a great way to leave the game?”

It would be for Hopkins. But the fun part would be watching the spectacle and the buildup to it. Can you imagine the trash talk between those two? Hopkins said he would have cameras on him 24-7 so the world can see him go through his training regimen.

A Hopkins-Mayweather fight would be a huge boost to boxing. The curiosity alone would hype the fight. Criticism of the fight as an absurdity by more than a few sports writers and columnists would only add fuel to the flame. It would be “Old School versus New School.”

And win or lose, the guts that Hopkins has to even dare to embark on this journey would only solidify his stature in the sport.

Champions in the Fight Against Hunger in Philly

26 Nov

 

Bernard Hopkins and Danny Garcia Help give away holiday turkeys in West Philadelphia

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

From left to right-Craig Stroman, CEO and founder of We Feed the Homeless Philly', Angel Garcia, father and trainer of Danny Garcia, world light heavyweight champion, world junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and Chad Dion Lassiter, executive director of the American Red Cross House in West Philadelphia. Photo by Chris Murray.

From left to right-Craig Stroman, CEO and founder of We Feed the Homeless Philly’, Angel Garcia, father and trainer of Danny Garcia, world light heavyweight champion, world junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and Chad Dion Lassiter, executive director of the American Red Cross House in West Philadelphia. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA—Both International Boxing Federation light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and WBC/WBA light welterweight champion Danny Garcia have had a whirlwind year inside the ring in 2013. They are both coming off huge victories and are considered among the best pound-for-poundboxers in their sport.

On Monday, Hopkins and Garcia joined forces with We Feed the Homeless Philly and the American Red Cross House on Powelton Avenue to give 450 holiday turkeys to low-income families in Mantua and residents of the Red Cross House. Turkey recipients braved cold temperatures and stood in a line that was about a block long.

Hopkins said both he and Garcia with all the success that they’ve enjoyed this season are blessed to be back in the community to be able to help people.

“Thank God you’re in position to be giving out turkeys and that you’re not receiving one,” Hopkins said. “That could be you in that line.”

Hopkins and Garcia passing out holiday turkeys to low-income residents of West Philly. Photo by Chris Murray.

Hopkins and Garcia passing out holiday turkeys to low-income residents of West Philly. Photo by Chris Murray.

While Hopkins and Garcia are known worldwide as champions in their sport, their concern for the families in their hometown makes them champions as people as well.

“There’s joy in transcending self to serve others,” said Chad Dion Lassister, executive director of the Red Cross House. “One of the amazing things about Bernard Hopkins and Danny Garcia is they fundamentally understand that they have multiple identities. They’re not just champs, they also come from these communities and it’s great to give back. It means so much.”

The turkey giveaway was part of We Feed the Homeless Philly’s efforts to deal with the organization’s ongoing effort to deal with the city’s hunger crisis, said Craig Stroman, founder and CEO of the organization. Places like Mantua are among the city’s most impoverished areas of the city and while events like this help ease the pain of hunger for the holidays in these areas, more help is needed, he said.

“We appreciate the champs for coming out, but what we need to be focused on is a hunger problem in our city,” Stroman said. “This is what we do 365 days a year. We worry about the hungry in our communities. We feed the homeless and we feed poor families across the citywho call us for help. “We decided to do this partnership with the Red Cross House to try get as many people we can feed in this Mantua section, which is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. We wanted to help and give people turkeys so they can sit with their families with dignity during the Thanksgiving holiday.”

For Garcia, who is coming off a big win over heavily-favored Lucas Matthysse and a victory earlier this year over Zab Judah, coming out to give turkeys to the city’s poor is the highlight of what has been a good year for him personally.

“It feels great to give back to my community and give back to the Philadelphia community means a lot to me,” Garcia said. “I’m thankful, man because this means more to me than anything because there’s a lot of people out there who are not fortunate to have a good dinner. Today was about the people.”

 

 

 

McNabb Admits ‘Not Black Enough’ Comments Bothered Him During His Days in Philly

19 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Donovan McNabb will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Honor Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo by Chris Murray

Donovan McNabb will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Honor Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For all of the slings and arrows that Donovan McNabb endured during his tumultuous 11-year tenure in Philadelphia, the one thing that seemed to stick in his crawl the most was the idea that he wasn’t “Black enough.”

Back in 2005, J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia NAACP and publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday SUN suggested that McNabb was playing the race card by moving away from being a running quarterback and turning into a drop-back passer.

Other local celebrities including boxer Bernard Hopkins also jumped on the “Are you Black enough?” bandwagon, questioning not only McNabb’s Blackness, but also his street cred and his toughness.

While he is the quarterback with the most wins in Eagles history, and went to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, the lack of support from some verbal elements of Philadelphia’s African American community took some of the shine from those achievements, McNabb admitted.

“It was hilarious to me that you would be criticized not only by the masses, but by your own people. That right there is still funny to this day,” McNabb said to a group of reporters at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday. “That pissed me off more because of the struggles that [Blacks have] been through trying to play the position. To have a guy come out and say I’m not running because I’m trying to prove a point or you know, I’m not Black enough…. Well, I guess we have a lot more quarterbacks who aren’t Black enough.”

McNabb, who now works as a commentator on Fox Sports News, was in town to be inducted into the Eagles’ Ring Of Honor. The ceremony will take place tonight during the Eagles/Kansas City Chiefs game.

There are currently nine African Americans taking signals from center in the National Football League, which is the most in league history. Like former Eagles great Randall Cunningham and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, McNabb, and his era of signal callers including Daunte Culpepper, Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Aaron Brooks, made things a little easier for players like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Colin Kapernick and E.J. Manuel to shine in a league that sometimes still has problems knowing how to best utilize their skills.

“What you’re seeing with nine African-American quarterbacks that are playing the quarterback position that people are truly looking into having a strong-armed, athletic, intelligent guy at the position who can not only make plays with their arm, but with their legs.”

But while the athleticism of this new breed of African American signal caller gets a lot of the attention, it’s often at the expense of acknowledging their intelligence, McNabb said. The West Coast offense comes from a playbook that could rival any encyclopedia. You have to be more than just a strong arm to master it, he said.

“Stop looking at the outer shell and focus on who the kid really is,” McNabb said. “What’s the difference between an RGIII, a Russell Wilson, a Colin Kaepernick or an Andrew Luck? Is it skin color or is one smarter than the other? I think if you look at the overall big picture of it all, they’re quarterbacks if they’re Black or White. They’re ask to do what quarterbacks are asked to do—protect the football, read the defense, dissect it and be able to get the ball to the open man and win football games.”

McNabb left his mark on the current Eagles squad by convincing former coach Andy Reid to bring current Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in 2009 after Vick was released from jail after serving time for his part in a dog fighting ring. Reid, who will be leading the Kansas City Chiefs into the Linc tonight, eventually followed his signal caller’s advice and gave the former Virginia Tech star a chance for resurgence.

Connecting Vick with the Eagles was about trying to help a friend, said McNabb, who has known Vick since he was a high school student and had tried to recruit him for his alma mater Syracuse.

“Mike and I had that tie together where I felt like bringing a brother in,” McNabb said. “Bringing a friend in to get back on his feet and continue to fulfill a dream.”

McNabb said he’s proud of Vick’s success, especially during these first two weeks of this season.

“I think he’s progressed and matured,” McNabb said. “I think the steps that he’s made is because Chip Kelly challenged him. The team saw the work ethic that he put forth. I think it showed on the football field. What you’re seeing is a guy who is a lot older than the guys on the football field and in the locker room, but he’s willing to do what it takes to win.”

Because Philadelphia was tough on him at times, one might think that McNabb would tell his friend Vick to rent, not buy, while he’s playing for the Eagles.

But as he looks back at his career as an Eagle, and the honor he’ll be receiving tonight, there are no hard feelings, McNabb said.

“I just dismiss it,” he said. “My Mom always told me that if somebody brings your name up, that means they’re thinking about you. It doesn’t affect me. It didn’t affect me when I played. I enjoyed playing here in Philadelphia. To see some of the fans that say they miss when I was playing and still wish that I was out there….”

“There are some people out there that truly respect what I’ve done…”