Gary Hinton, IBF #140 Champ Inducted into PA HOF Interview by Ken Hissner (May 16, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
West Philadelphia’s Gary Hinton came up through the ranks in the amateurs during the 1976-77 years when there was an abundance of good boxers. On May 16th this former IBF light welterweight champion will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame.
Hinton fought for the Executioners Gym at 60th and Vine under head trainer Tucchi Gordon. Hinton turned professional in January of 1978 for promoter J. Russell Peltz. He won three of his first four fights over Billy Jones in finally stopping him in their last fight. That fight was held at the Spectrum in South Philly after earning his way there with three wins at the now legendary Blue Horizon.
In January of 1979 in his fifth fight he won an 8 round decision over Michael Ross, 2-1, also of Philly. “He was a tough fighter,” said Hinton. He followed this with a knockout over Lou Daniels, 6-3, before meeting Jerry Graham, 10-1-1, in his eighth fight. A decision win here put Hinton moved him to Atlantic City where he defeated Ronnie Green, 7-3-3, over 8 rounds in the ESPN tournament in June of 1980.
Four weeks later Hinton was matched with future world champion and fellow Philly fighter Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, 9-1-1. Peltz had a reputation of pitting the Philly fighters against one another which may not have produced as many champions as there should have been but it paid off at the box office. “I had him hurt in the last round and though I pulled it out. Green and Brown both were tough,” said Hinton.
Three months later Hinton met Brown’s stable mate Ernest Jackson, 4-1, boxing to a draw over 8 rounds in Atlantic City. Just 6 weeks later he had a rematch with Graham, 11-3-1, defeating him at the Wynne Ballroom, in West Philly over 8 rounds. After posting a couple more wins he was matched with Puerto Rico’s Victor Mangual, 10-4-2, in the first of two meetings in July of 1980. Hinton increased his record to 13-1-1, with a win over 8 rounds. He would follow this up a little over a month later stopping Teddy Hatfield, 8-0, in 3 rounds at the Martin Luther King Arena in Philly. This was next door to the famous American Bandstand.
In November of 1981 Hinton met the USBA champion, Curtis “Troubleman” Harris, 12-1, in a non-title bout in Atlantic City. “He kept holding me the whole fight but I still thought I beat him,” said Hinton. A rematch the next month with Mangual resulted in a 4th round knockout win for Hinton. He was only able to fight twice in 1982 scoring a pair of wins in Atlantic City.
In early 1983 Hinton scored two knockouts before decisioning Steve Mitchell, 8-0, in Atlantic City. In March of 1984 he met fellow southpaw Jerome Kinney, 20-1, of Detroit. The vacant USBA light welterweight title was at stake with Hinton taking the title over 12 rounds. In July he defended his new title against Brett Lally, 16-3, in Atlantic City. “He would come in with his head and butt me the entire fight,” said Hinton. He managed to keep his title winning a majority decision earning an IBF title bout with now Hall of Fame boxer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor.
It wasn’t until March of 1985 in Atlantic City when Hinton, 23-2-1, met Pryor, 35-0, who was making his 10th defense. Two of the judges had it 143-141 for each fighter. Some how the other judge had it 146-139 for Pryor by split decision. This writer had it 143-142 for Pryor, 8-7 in rounds. “I thought I won that fight,” said Hinton. Pryor would not fight again for 29 months vacating his title. I had met Pryor in camp in Pleasantville, NJ, and he was like a different person than he was when I met him in Easton, Pa. years earlier. He was “born again” and couldn’t have been friendlier. “I had no problems with him prior to the fight. We had fought in the amateurs,” said Hinton. The old Pryor would have rattled a few cages.
In the next year Hinton would fight twice against quality opponents with neither for Pryor’s vacant title. In August of 1985 he met Joe Manley, 22-3, in defense of his USBA title with the bout ending in a draw at Atlantic City. “This was over local channel 17 and I thought everyone saw I won that fight,” said Hinton. In November he won the WBC Continental Americas title easily defeating Darryl “Fast Fists” Fuller, 18-4-1, over 12 rounds in Atlantic City.
Hinton got his second chance at the IBF light welterweight title which was vacant in April of 1986 but had to travel to Toscana, Italy for the opportunity. There he met Reyes Antonio Cruz, 34-0-1, of the Dominican Republic, who had defeated Fuller and Johnny Verderosa, 24-1, in the US, after fighting a bunch of tomato cans back home. All of the officials including the referee were from the US which made it fair for Hinton in winning by scores of 143-142, 145-140 and 144-142. He finally had his world championship increasing his record to 25-3-2!
Hinton’s first defense would be a rematch against Joe Manley, 25-3-1. The fight was held in Hartford‘s Civic Center with their local hero Marlon Starling on the undercard. “I was always told I would grow into a welterweight if not bigger but I wanted to stay at 140. I was having trouble making weight for this fight and was cramping up by fight time. After 9 rounds Manley was ahead on all scorecards, by one point on one. Hinton was stopped in the 10th round and at age 30 would never get another title fight.
“I changed trainers and management in moving up to 147,” said Hinton. “Peltz offered me a fight for a couple hundred dollars after losing the title,” said Hinton. He would sign with Mickey Duff of the UK and Ivan Cohen from South Philly. Duff was partners with Jim Jacobs and was involved with 16 world champions. Cohen had managed IBF light middleweight champion Buster Drayton and had over 20 fighters at the time. Today, he manages highly touted “Hammerin” Hank Lundy. The new trainer would be Philly’s Leon Tabbs. He also managed Jerry “The Bull” Martin who defeated James Scott in Rahway prison. “Hinton was a great prospect. Even though I was involved on the down side of his career I hoped he would have stayed with it. He was very easy to work with,” said Tabbs.
First fight out of the box was against another Philly fighter in Frank “Silk” Montgomery, 13-4, in Atlantic City, May of 1988. John “The Beast” Mugabi was on the comeback after his war with Tommy Hearn’s in the co-feature. A young Willie “The Worm” Monroe, 6-1, was on the under card. Hinton would take a 10 round decision from Montgomery after a 19 month lay-off. His next bout would be in Tampa in July against Dexter Smith, 27-27-3, of Miami. Smith had knocked out Manley two fights previous to this. “He had me down early and I was in bad shape,” said Hinton. He managed to come back and take the decision over Smith.
“It hurt leaving Tucci Gordon and as good a trainer as he was, Leon Tabbs was a cut above. When I see him working as a cut man today on television I can’t understand whey he isn’t still training fighters,” said Hinton. Tabbs was the first cut man used in 1990 when the MMA got started. In October Hinton met Mexican Juan Alonso Villa, 16-9, in his first fight in Philly in 7 years at the Woodhaven Sports Center. He stopped Villa at the end of the 4th round. Next, in February of 1989 he would travel to Auburn Hills, to meet local fighter Joe Walker, 8-4-1. “I was at my proper weight at 154. I dominated him and felt I could beat anybody that night,” said Hinton. Walker had fought to a draw with future champion Steve Little and defeated future champion Terry Norris by disqualification. Hinton won a 10 round decision.
For Hinton in August of 1989 it would be in his last fight. Once again he had to lose weight to come down to 147 meeting the former WBC light welterweight champion Saoul Mamby, 39-22-6, in Tampa. “I knew there was something going on when Mickey Duff only gave me half the money. They hadn’t taken anything up until then. He went out of his way to make sure Ivan Cohen wasn’t there. When I was entering the ring I got that same feeling with the cramps when I lost to Manley from making weight,” said Hinton. Duff helped Leon Tabbs in the corner and Hinton was ahead going into the 9th round. The scores were 77-75 on two judge’s scorecards and 78-76 on the other all for Hinton. “Duff took over in the corner after the 8th round telling me just to box. I shouldn’t have done it but when I did he landed a right hand over my jab knocking me down. When I got up the referee asked me what state I was in. I kept saying I’m all right,” said Hinton. That’s when the referee Max Parker, Jr. stopped the fight. “If Cohen was there instead of Duff I believe I would have won the fight,” said Hinton.
Hinton now lives with his wife several blocks from the gym where he got started. He now works at the airport and is in great shape at 53. “We lived down south for about 7 years before coming back. We will be out of town for the induction but my good friend and barber Spencer T will be accepting for me,” said Hinton. I visited Spencer at his shop near 40th and Lancaster to borrow some of Hinton’s tapes. “I have most of his tapes but have to find them. I look forward to the induction,” said Spencer.
Hinton admitted to going in the wrong direction after retiring from boxing. It took hitting rock bottom before his life got turned around. He was separated from his wife and got back with her and claims to have never looked back at his life of sin for the past 20 years.
Hinton will be inducted with his former foe Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley, Mike Everett and Dwight Muhammad Qwai, the “Camden Buzzsaw”.
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