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Hinkeys keep Olympic dream alive

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

BY MIKE HOUSER

RENO – It takes a lot to make Derek and Tyler Hinkey mad. The brothers, who hail from McDermitt, are generally quiet and soft-spoken and normally let their fists do their talking.

But after a family tragedy and one too many questionable decisions that have gone against them, the Hinkeys are taking off the kid gloves.

Middleweight Derek, 23, and super heavyweight Tyler, 21, are competing in the USA Boxing Western Trials in Bakersfield, Calif., from Monday through Saturday, and are bringing a new attitude to the ring.

“Personally, I’m looking to knock out people,” Tyler said Thursday at the Jimmy Olivas-Wolf Pack Gym. “It’s the first time I’ve said it. In (the USA Boxing National Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Jan. 14) I got one point in three rounds (against Kevin Burnett). I’m going to try to knock people out. Maybe it’s not the best thing to say, but the amateur point system has never favored me.”

“I hate hearing ‘Points, points, points,'” Derek agreed. “I’m tired of hearing that crap. I’ve about had it with the amateurs. I knocked down (USA Boxing’s No. 2 rated middleweight) Donyil Livingston twice and scored three standing-eight counts, and they somehow see it in his favor. Then I knocked down James Parison (in the USA Boxing Regional Championships semifinal round in National City, Calif. on Dec. 13 and lost a 3-2 split decision). He talked to me about the decision after the fight. I have a lot of respect for him. But I’ve been nice for a while. I’m not going to do that anymore.”

There’s another reason the brothers are looking to dish out some mayhem. It is their last shot to make the United States Olympic Trials in Tunica, Miss., which begin Feb. 16. Eight fighters in each weight division will face off, with the top two going to the Olympic Box-offs in Cleveland the weekend after the Trials. The winner of the Box-offs will represent the United States in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, and will have a shot to go on to sign a lucrative professional contract with a major promoter following the Olympics.

While Derek is still stinging from his loss to Parison, Tyler is coming off the wrong end of a 19-1 decision to Burnett, of Lenexa, Kan., a fighter Hinkey has stopped twice.

“I’m not making any excuses. I went to Colorado mentally and physically ready,” Tyler Hinkey said. “Two days before the fight (with Burnett), I heard that my uncle (Edmund Smart) passed away. I thought I was strong and mature enough to handle it. But just for a second I’d think ‘I need to be home with my family.’ Burnett’s a good fighter, but that one-second hesitation took away my timing.”

Both fighters said they were now mentally ready and were quite aware of the significance of this, their last amateur boxing tournament. Each will likely have to win five fights.

“If it don’t happen (winning the tournament), it wasn’t meant to be,” Tyler said. “It won’t be because I didn’t try. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

“It’s a do-or-die tournament right now,” Derek Hinkey said. “My family is a big thing. My dad is basically my knowledge, my mom is my strength. I agree with my dad. I have to knock somebody out. I can’t get a decision. I put both of them (Livingston and Parison) on their butt. Somehow the judges don’t see it. My dad says, ‘Go in, do what you do.’ If it goes to a decision, I won’t be mad if I don’t get it. I will have had four rounds to knock them out.”

The brothers went four hard rounds apiece with Kelvin Davis on Thursday. Davis, who will be fighting for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title against Ezra Sellers on March 20, had a particularly vicious session with Tyler, splitting Tyler’s lip.

“He caught me with an uppercut,” Tyler said. “but I gave it back, too.”

So did Derek, who kept off Davis with a jackhammer jab, mixed in with strong left hooks and right hands.

And if things weren’t rough enough, the brothers’ sponsor money ran out, and the two had to work for Labor Ready, where they made little money for back-breaking work.

“It’s kind of frustrating,” Derek said. “I’m not naming names, but the sponsors were giving the non-minority fighters their money. We weren’t getting half what the non-minority fighters were getting.”

The Hinkeys, who are of Paiute-Shoshone heritage, said they were asked recently to go to speak at an after-school program for Spanish Springs teacher Barbara Serret. After their appearance, the brothers received a thank-you card from Serret and a much-needed $200 for their time, which Derek said helped to pay the rent.

Now it’s on to the Western Trials and an imminent farewell to the amateur ranks if they don’t win.

“In all actuality, if I don’t make the Olympics, I’ve got some boxing experience and have seen the country and Finland,” Tyler said. “I’m not trying to win the tournament for anybody but myself, because I’ve been doing it so long. There’s no outside pressure.”

Derek has a different motivation.

“My dad and mom and my family in McDermitt and Carson City are coming,” Derek said. “Money’s always been a problem. The pressure is there. They’re there to back us up. I’d feel funny if I lose after they travel to see me. I want to thank my family for being there. I’m not going to talk to anybody and I’m not going to smile. My career’s not over, it’s just beginning (Derek will turn pro after his amateur career). I’m just going to be a little more ferocious.”

Contact Mike Houser at editor@nevadaappeal.com.