Lem Satterfield

Jarred by tragedy, Hopkins readied for Trinidad against 9/11 backdrop

During an interview with the Baltimore Sun in 2001, then-IBF middleweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins talked about watching the second airplane ram the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 from his Manhattan hotel room 20 blocks away.

Hopkins said then that for one of the few times in his life, he was afraid.

“I guess I should count my blessings,” said Hopkins then, only one day after having trained three blocks from the site of the tragedy while preparing for a scheduled Sept. 15 title fight against Felix Trinidad that was postponed until Sept. 29.

“Being paranoid, scared and afraid – I don’t usually have any feelings like that. But when I saw the second plane disappear inside of the building, knowing I was scheduled to train at Water Front Gym that day, first thing that went through my mind was, `Where’s the next one going to crash?'”

Having been in prison and survived the tough streets of Philadelphia, Hopkins has both seen death and escaped it. At 14, a stabbing punctured a lung, inches from his heart.

A year later, Hopkins was stabbed in the back. At 17, he began serving five years in Pennsylvania’s Graterford Prison for multiple offenses.

There, he saw a man stabbed to death. While he was incarcerated, his brother, one of seven siblings, was shot to death on the street. He was released from prison at age 22.

“I never saw anything as graphic as the World Trade Center, but where I grew up, you just learn how to live with it, because it’s survival of the fittest,” said Hopkins, who had been cleared to cleared four days prior to fight-time to return for training at the Water Front Gym.

Hopkins knocked out Trinidad in the 12th round, handing the Puerto Rican fighter his first-ever loss against 40 wins and 33 stoppages and ending his consecutive knockout streak at three.

The win represented Hopkins’ 14th defense during a record run of 20 middleweight title defenses.

Now 46, Hopkins is the oldest man to have won a significant boxing title, doing so with a unanimous decision that dethroned Jean Pascal as WBC lightheavyweight titleholder in May.

Hopkins, Trinidad and the promoter of their clash, Don King, recount their experiences from nearly 10 years ago in a story on Yahoo!Sports.

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