If you’re over 45 and a hardcore boxing fan, you might remember Jemal Hinton – a supremely talented super bantamweight who fought a bunch of times on national TV and was rising through the ranks until he simply disappeared.
Yes, Hinton, who trained at Kronk Gym under the tutelage of the great Emanuel Steward, was regularly featured on USA’s Tuesday Night Fights and seemed to be a can’t-miss superstar along with stablemates Oba Carr and Michael Moorer.
I came across his name today and it took me back nearly 30 years. I still remember having his boxing card in my collection at a time when they were briefly created for and sold to the mainstream public a la baseball cards today.
Sadly, I also just learned of Hinton’s passing on March 28, 2021, via an automobile accident but failed to see any news about it in the boxing media and felt compelled to acknowledge him.
How good was Hinton?
On April 1, 1988, he defeated Kennedy McKinney by a 3-2 decision to win the U.S. National Amateur Bantamweight Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He would have made the 1988 U.S Olympic Team had he not lost to McKinney in their rematch months later.
McKinney, of course, would subsequently strike Olympic gold.
Hometown: District Heights, Maryland, USA
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died: 2021-03-28 (Age:51)
It’s so rare to see such a fine talent with a presumed very promising, very lucrative career ahead of him just retire out of the blue.
Jemal was just 22 and on the same path as contemporaries Michael Carbajal, Riddick Bowe, Terry Norris, and Roy Jones, Jr.
Legendary fight trainer Emanuel Steward, front center, with Kronk Gym super-prospects (l to r) Oba Carr, Michael Moorer, Leeonzer Barber, and Jemal Hinton. Circa 1990.
In 2013, Hinton explained his reasons for retiring to Livefight.com: “I began to lose the desire that was needed to be victorious in battle, and a few other things that happened made me realize I needed to retire. …”
“There was something taking place inside me, spiritually and mentally, and it was causing me to tire of boxing. It was causing me to become confused about the whole idea of training and beating people up. … Retiring was the bravest, most stand-up decision I’d ever made, my feelings about boxing were changing, and for the first time in my life I felt free.”
Credit to Jemal for not staying in the game for the wrong reasons.
Mr. Hinton, a native of the DC suburbs and originally from District Heights, Maryland, would subsequently coach his son, Jemal, Jr., in boxing.
FightSaga sends its deepest condolences to the Hinton family and we are grateful for having witnessed the class and electricity he provided in the ring.