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July 26, 2016

Boxing superstar Bernard Hopkins knows politics packs a punch

The future hall of fame fighter is at the DNC this week to support the Democratic Party and challenge other professional athletes to get involved in politics

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07252016_Bernard_Hopkins1_JS Joseph Santoliquito/For PhillyVoice

Bernard Hopkins, pictured Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center, will be in attendance all week at the Democratic National Convention. He is challenging pro athletes to get involved in politics.

No one tells future boxing hall of famer Bernard Hopkins what to say or what to do. No one ever has. “B-Hop” has always walked and talked to his own narrative.

Hopkins, who may have been the only major Philadelphia athlete who attended the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night, plans on being a presence at the DNC the entire week. It’s because the 50-something former middleweight and light heavyweight champion of the world knows the impact that politics has on everyone.

Hopkins, who turned 51 in January and is planning a farewell fight this fall, could barely take two steps in the Wells Fargo Center concourse without being stopped by a Philadelphian or a fight fan.

But he was there to show support to the Democratic Party and challenge other professional athletes to take a step toward being more involved.

Like “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, once did.

“We need to become unified as a country and we all have to be on the same page because of the crucial moments that we live in today,” Hopkins said. “In crucial times, there’s a big pot of brewing stuff that can take generations back multiple years. We have to stop it. It’s why I’m here. We need to realize we can’t afford that right now. We had eight years to become unified, and the Republican Party is banking on that fire to be gone.

“It’s not. All Americans need to get along. I support the police, I support ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but my biggest complaint has always been the genocide in our own black communities....I need to let these people here, these powerful people, that there are kids out there being shot and killed. It goes ignored every day....We need people to have that same passion when something bad occurs to animals and move that outrage to when people, especially young kids, get shot and die.”

What spurns Hopkins is not just black kids losing their lives, but mostly poor children.

"I came through the system and survived the system when I was in jail as a kid. I can speak about reform, because I’m living proof." – Bernard Hopkins

“The poor have no color and that evil in those communities spreads like bad disease that can’t be controlled,” Hopkins said. “The people here, these politicians and people holding power, need to understand that. They need to hear people like myself, but more than just me, pro athletes from around the country who politicians will listen to."

Then Hopkins brought up an interesting point. History has a penchant for keeping score. Elections, like the presidential choice coming up in November between Republican nominee Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, will be marked by history.

Hopkins feels the system needs to make be changed, just like many of the people who filled the Wells Fargo Center Monday night. But that change won’t happen if there is silence.

“I feel a lot of people are in denial,” Hopkins said. “Athletes don’t know that what goes on in politics has a lot to do with their everyday lives. It has a lot to do with their taxes, their status, where they live, the schools available to them. I don’t see a whole bunch of football players, basketball players, hockey players, boxers, baseball players, you name it, flooding this building and getting involved.”

“It’s up to me to represent the other pro athletes that aren’t here and need to be here," he continued. "When I got approached about this, I had to say yes. I came through the system and survived the system when I was in jail as a kid. I can speak about reform, because I’m living proof."

"I could vote, if I get a pardon for my past. But I don't want one," Hopkins said. "I don't want kids to make the same mistakes I made. No way. But I want to be reminded every day until I die where I come from. It’s part of my history. If you erase that, you erase my history."