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Discipline and Longevity

In my last entry, I shared a quote from NFL football player J.J. Watts. He spoke of his desire to make the most of his playing career. He has no time for distractions and is 100 percent focused on continuous improvement.

To no surprise, you will hear similar wisdom shared by Bernard Hopkins in the video below.

And while some may label his advice as common sense, I can say that it is everything but common. I have seen countless athletes who only abide by such advice when it is convenient or forced upon them. Many athletes simply do not have the discipline to follow such a lifestyle year after year.

As a result, the longevity displayed by Hopkins is rarely seen in any sport. He began fighting professionally in 1988. That was over 25 years ago. In other words, he has critics today that were not even alive when he was already fighting professionally. Hopkins is currently 49 years old and is the oldest boxer to ever win a world championship.

His most recent titles were not his first however. Previously, Hopkins reigned as the middleweight champion for over a decade. He had 20 consecutive world title defenses during that time. And while his middleweight reign seems like a distant memory, there were critics who had already counted him out in his mid thirties. I vividly recall when Hopkins was preparing to fight Felix Trinidad in 2001. Trinidad entered the bout at 40-0. He was fresh off a brutal knockout over William Joppy and many expected him to do the same to the older Hopkins. Bernard had different plans. I was fortunate to sit ringside as he put on a boxing clinic and dominated Trinidad before stopping him in the final round.

Much of the boxing world was shocked to see such a performance from a 36 year old fighter. I was not surprised at all. It was a few months prior to that fight when I was fortunate to run a 5K race with Hopkins. At that time, he adamantly proclaimed that he was going to be around for a LONG time.

Bernard Hopkins

Thirteen years later, we have come to expect nothing less from this ageless warrior. I won’t be surprised if Hopkins wins another title as a 50 year old man. I will not count him out until he is down and out.

In summary, if you are a young and aspiring athlete, you will be hard pressed to find better advice than the wisdom he shares above. Athletes do not last that long by accident. Hopkins takes discipline to a level that most cannot endure. I have heard of many fighters who have literally packed up and left his training camps in the middle of the night. The discipline and work ethic that he demands is more than most can handle. Once again, it all boils down to how much you are willing to sacrifice to become the best that you can be. And while not everyone is up to the challenge, at least recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of his accomplishments.

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It takes no effort to be ordinary. Ordinary is not even a challenge. You can do nothing and be ordinary. – Bernard Hopkins

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8 comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Eric July 14th, 2014 6:56 pm

    People used to marvel at Ancient Archie Moore, but even Archie was heavy, bloated, and greying his last couple of years. Archie hung them up as an overweight heavyweight at 48. Hopkins is still among the best in the world at almost 50 years old. Incredible!

  2. DoomRater July 15th, 2014 10:29 am

    As powerful as Marciano was, didn’t he too decide the discipline wasn’t for him and that’s when he stopped?

  3. katherine July 16th, 2014 8:10 am

    I was thinking about Ronda Rousey this a.m. when I was doing my workout. Thinking about all her sacrifice and self-discipine to get to the elite level she’s at.
    I was feeling slow,fat and lazy in comparison so I got on here to get some inspiration. Thanx Ross. I love these stories. Gonna go run some hills now. Swim later for fun.

  4. Sven July 17th, 2014 7:27 am

    one of the true legends in any sport – not just boxing. in my eyes the only on of two all-time-greats of the last 15yrs.
    but not only that – he truly is a wise man, not just because of his age but rather of his knowledge what it takes to become successful.

  5. beytzim July 18th, 2014 1:07 pm

    the best line of the video “99 percent are trainers and 1 percent are teachers” So true!

  6. Yves July 25th, 2014 5:35 am

    Ross,
    With all your experience as a coach, do you think one is born with discipline or it’s something that can be developed with time? I always seems to be falling behind with my training goals to the point where some days I wonder if I’m just never gonna be a “disciplined” person… Just wondering what was your thought on this.

    Thanks for this post. Very inspiring to hear Hopkins talk like that especially when most of what we hear these days in the fighting world is the cash, cars and bitc… All the best Ross

  7. Joe July 25th, 2014 4:20 pm

    Ross E

    Your pic with B Hop is awesome!

    How old were you in that pic?

  8. Dinamita August 31st, 2014 11:32 am

    Archie also followed a bad diet he was heavy on sweets. when i see Hopkins on this clip it automatically reminded me of Herschel Walker who is past 50 and still very disciplined and looking young.

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