Call him Bernard “The Rabbi” Hopkins.
The former middleweight and light heavyweight boxing champ, famous for his “Executioner” nickname and persona, attended a Passover dinner just outside Las Vegas less then 24 hours after defeating Roy Jones Jr. on April 3, a rematch 17 years in the making. He addressed a crowd of about 150 people commemorating the story of the Jews’ crossing the Red Sea.
Most Passover programs advertise rabbis or other spiritual leaders, but the program at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev., featured one of the best pound-for-pound boxers.
“In life, whether it’s in boxing or religion,” Hopkins told the crowd, “you have to put in the hard work if you want to get somewhere or else you’ll just be waiting for something that’s not going to come.”
Hopkins was a guest of New York children’s apparel magnate and part owner of the New Jersey Nets, Artie Rabin, who sang Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” as Hopkins entered the ring against Jones and whose family was celebrating Passover at Lake Las Vegas.
“I’m 45, so I’d like to have one more fight, which will either be this year or never,” Hopkins said.
Rabbi Sholom Jensen, from Great Neck, N.Y., asked Hopkins to say a few words to the crowd.
“Seize the moment, that’s what it’s about,” Jensen said afterward. “I think [Hopkins] brought some kedushah [holiness] to the crowd, and in a small way, I think we brought some kedushah to him. This is a Passover everyone will remember.”
None of the guests knew Hopkins was attending the dinner until that evening.
“After staying longer than anyone else at the top of the middleweight division, he went even higher to the top of the light heavyweight division, and now he’s speaking at a Passover event. So his accomplishments keep growing,” Horowitz told the crowd.
Jonathan Horowitz (jjhorowitz.com) is a 25-year-old aspiring boxing announcer.