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Hinkeys keep Olympic dream alive

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

By Mike Houser

It’s not exactly the way they would have wanted or imagined it, but Tyler and Derek Hinkey’s Olympic dream is still alive.

Tyler stopped 6-foot-7, 265-pound Keith Spencer 10 seconds into the second round Sunday, winning the USA Boxing regional super heavyweight championship in National City, Calif. With the win, Tyler advanced to the USA Boxing National Championships, to be held Jan. 10-17 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will advance to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials if he is able to finish first or second.

While Derek lost a 3-2 split decision to James Parison, of San Diego, in Saturday’s semifinal round of the 165-pound division, he has one more shot to go the Olympic Team Trials in Tunica, Miss., which will begin on Feb. 16. He can advance if he can win the USA Boxing Western Trials, to be held Feb. 3-7, in Bakersfield, Calif.

If the brothers, who hail from McDermitt, can both advance to the Team Trials, they will be the first brothers to do so since Leon and Michael Spinks did it in 1976, the same year they both won gold medals in the Olympics.

Bobby Lee, the Hinkeys’ coach, said Tyler first dropped Spencer, who was recently elevated to No. 5 in USA Boxing’s super heavyweight rankings, with a left hook at the end of the first round.

“The bell saved (Spencer),” Lee said. “In round two, Tyler just jumped on him.”

“I knew the hook was the money punch,” said Tyler, who weighed in at 293 pounds for the fight. “I knew it would be dangerous, but I wanted to time his right hand (in the second round). I hit him with a lead left hook and wobbled him, then threw a light jab and an overhand right that hit his right temple. He landed on his face. He had a lot of power. He had real big arms, so I knew he would get tired sooner or later. I rolled with his punches and took off some of his power.”

Tyler also shrugged off some of Spencer’s pre-fight intimidation tactics.

“When we were in the dressing room, he was mad-dogging (staring at) Tyler,” Derek said. “(Spencer) would giggle and laugh when he walked by. His arms were as big as my legs. He was supposed to be a Navy champ or something. He kept saying he owned the ring. He was outspoken. Tyler just smiled. He let his hands do the talking in the ring.”

Tyler said he respected Spencer, but was never intimidated.

“He had an attitude problem, but I was just there to take care of business,” said Tyler, who is 20 years old. “It shows that my hard work finally paid off. By going to the nationals, it shows I paid my dues.”

But he will be going without Derek, who Lee and Tyler both said was the victim of a hometown decision.

Lee said Derek dropped Parison with a left hook-right hand in the third round.

“I thought they should’ve stopped it,” Lee said. “(Parison) was so messed up, he grabbed the ropes and was looking at me in our corner. The bell saved him.”

Lee said the two went toe to toe throughout the fourth and it appeared that Derek had dropped Parison again, but the referee didn’t rule a knockdown. Derek hurt Parison, who won the 2002 National Golden Gloves in Reno (at 147 pounds) and the 2003 National Golden Gloves in Denver (at 156 pounds) again at the end of the round.

“I hurt him with about 20 seconds left, but I couldn’t finish him,” said Derek via call phone Monday. “I didn’t have the strength left.”

Derek, 23, was studying a tape of the fight at home, where he was battling a cold that he caught just before the fight. He said the cold didn’t play a part in the defeat.

“It looks like the ref didn’t finish the count (on the first knockdown),” Derek said. “The other knockdown would’ve given me maybe a 4-2 (victory).”

Derek refused to say he was the victim of a bad decision.

“I have no excuses. The better man won,” Derek said. “I fought a real good kid. He was a Christian. He was very religious. Most guys run from me. He wasn’t the biggest guy out there, but he turned it into a major war. He told me how well I did. He said he’d won (the two National Golden Gloves championships) and he had fought (undefeated professionals) Jesus Gonzalez and Ishe Smith and that I was the only guy to drop him. He was a helluva fighter. I have a lot of respect for him. I’ll be rooting for him at the USA Boxing nationals.”

Derek and Tyler, both of the Paiute-Shoshone tribes, were the first Native American brothers to advance to the USA Boxing regional tournament.

“After the fight Tyler hugged Derek and wouldn’t let him go,” Lee said. “He was crying and said, ‘This was for you. This was for you.'”

Derek said he felt bad about losing, but was extremely happy for his younger brother.

“(Tyler) gave me a big old hug and told me I should be going, too,” Derek said. “I told him (it was OK) as long as one of us made it. If my brother was world champion and I was just an ordinary guy, that’s OK.”

“There was a lot of emotion,” Tyler said. “They ripped him off. I’m taking a step without my brother. I don’t do that often.”

Tyler said he was going to take a couple of days off and go back to the gym. He said he planned to take off about 20 pounds “to start,” but that the weight didn’t negatively affect his performance and won’t be a factor in the nationals.

“I’m going to work the body and go up (to the head),” Tyler said of his battle plan. “I’m going to stay busy. If I have a little luck and train the way I’m supposed to, I know I can be the top boxer in the nation.”

Contact Mike Houser at editor@nevadaappeal.com.