ORLANDO, Fla. -- A sports figure has accomplished something either amazing or strange if he or she lands in the same hall of fame as Lady Gaga's meat dress.
Consider Bernard Hopkins a little of both.
The 46-year-old boxer is currently in Orlando having his image cast in silicone and wax for Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum. He is the first boxer and athlete, if you don't consider WWE a sport, to receive the honor. His wax sculpture is expected to be unveiled during the week of Oct. 15, before his next fight against 29-year-old Chad Dawson.
Given the fact that Hopkins is technically old enough to be Dawson's father, I'd say Ripley's was on point in finding its next freak of nature.
Not that it's uncommon for 46-year-old men to fight against six packs. But those packs usually go by the name Budweiser or Coors.
Ironically, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searched for the mythical waters of youth and restoration inFlorida centuries ago.
Aging can be a ginger topic in sports when 36 is considered old in football or basketball. For gymnasts, you're a flop if you're still flipping at 20.
Athletes face a difficult question as each year passes: "Is it time to stop chasing my dream?"
Hopkins hasn't figured that out yet. God willing, I hope he never does.
"When you're 46-years-old and you're fighting somebody young, there's some advantages on both sides. The advantage on his side is that he believes that tonight might be the night that 46 shows up," Hopkins said. "Whoever that guy is, (he) hasn't showed up yet."
Earlier this year, Hopkins shocked the world when he defeated 28-year-old Jean Pascal to win the WBC light heavyweight title. He surpassed George Foreman as the oldest fighter to win a major world championship.
Hopkins says his win wasn't a surprise, just that people weren't paying attention.
He's probably right. Since 2001, he's won 14 of his past 18 fights, including victories over Roy Jones Jr., Antonio Tarver and Oscar de la Hoya.
Hopkins credits good workout habits and a healthy diet as reasons for his success at 36-plus years of age. But wisdom and experience are his biggest advantages.
Wisdom tells him to look into his opponents' eyes early for surprise. By round two, his opponents usually find out they're not fighting any old man.
Wisdom also tells him to go in for the kill when he hears heavy breathing from an opponent in round three. He listens for the lapses in their training.
Hopkins is always conditioned for 12 rounds. Not 3.
"Every step of the world, whether it's corporate America or sports, the young is always preying on the old," Hopkins said. "So when you have the youth always wins at the end contest, I'm glad to be a poster boy to show that they're right most of the time, but not all of the time."
Some things, we must let go of in order to age gracefully. And some things, as Hopkins proves, are worth a fight.