Junious Hinton trained and fought professionally in New York for 18 years without getting a chance at a boxing title. Today, his sons Bandele and Jemal are trying to fulfill their father's dream by making a name for themselves in the ring.
"My sons were born into a boxing family," said Junious Hinton. "I don't have much of an education to speak of, so it would be foolish to try to teach them about things I don't know. But I can teach them boxing, something I know well."
His sons spend nearly two hours daily at the Sugar Ray Leonard Amateur Boxing Center in Palmer Park,, sweating to the pounding rhythm of the speed bag, jumping rope, shadow-boxing and battling formidable sparring partners. Bandele's been doing that since he was 8 years old, Jemal since he was 10. At home in New Carrollton, the father lectures to them on ring savvy, even across the dinner table.
Each is ranked No. 1 in his weight class in the Potomac Valley Boxing Association. Each has his eyes on Seoul and the 1988 Summer Olympics. And each is taking the steps that could make that goal possible.
Bandele (115-10), a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, has won boxing tournaments in Cuba, Sweden, Denmark and Romania. He is ranked seventh nationally by the Amateur Boxing Federation in the 132-pound division.
He was favored to win the lightweight division in the national amatuer championship in Beaumont, Tex., last month but was upset in the quarterfinals.
Jemal (69-10), a 119-pound junior at Eleanor Roosevelt, met top-ranked 22-year-old Michael Collins (308-12) of La Porte, Tex., for the bantamweight crown in Beaumont, but lost a 4-1 decision.
Each weekend this month, Impact Boxing Team and the Kenilworth Parkside Center in Northeast Washington will be hosting a qualifying tournament, with the winners representing Region II (District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and New York) in the Olympic Festival to be held in Lake Placid, N.Y. in June. The winners in New York will go to Houston in July for title bouts in the National ABF competition.
Jemal's second place in Beaumont qualifies him for the nationals. Although he said he could use the ring time, he feels it would be unfair to deny some other boxer the chance to advance in the standings when he has already qualified. Bandele also recently withdrew from the tournament after learning he could not take time off from his military boot camp in early June to compete in Lake Placid or Houston.
Jose Correa, trainer for Maurice Blocker, a boxer from the District who is the North American Boxing Federation welterweight champion, said he has followed the young Hintons since the beginning of their amateur careers.
"I am very impressed by these two boys and I expect them to go a long ways in boxing," said Correa. "You can't talk about the boys without talking about the father. I have never seen a father-son team click so well. Usually they don't click at all."
As a welterweight in New York, Junious Hinton, 43, was 38-13 and earned approximately $18,000. After losing four consecutive bouts by TKO, he realized the painful truth and decided to quit.
At that point, he began training professional fighters and working with Bandele, then 8.
"After I had gone through about 10 years of cuts, bruises and knockdowns with Linny [Junious], I was greatly against my sons getting into boxing," said Dorothy Hinton, Junious' wife. "Although I now support whatever they want to do with their lives, I am still very tense when I go to the matches."
Hinton and his family moved from New York to Washington in 1980, and he began working as a pressman for The Washington Post Company. Three years ago he returned to training young fighters, working at the Leonard Boxing Center. .
"I live for teaching boxing and disciplining young kids as well as my own two sons," said Hinton. "If it wasn't for my sons, I wouldn't have the position I have in working with and teaching so many young kids. If my boys couldn't box, how could I expect parents to send their kids to me?"
Virtually every inch of the Hintons' living room mantel is covered with trophies and plaques, and the walls are a collage of ribbons and other symbols of accomplishments.
"In order for me to be the best trainer I can be, I have to talk, think and eat boxing all the time," said Junious Hinton. "If they listen to me, they will be top boxers and won't get hurt."
Bandele and Jemal say they are not particularly concerned about the possibility of being injured in the ring.
"If you train hard and stay in shape, I believe you won't get hurt," said Bandele.
Jemal said: "It's a matter of conditioning and training. Boxers nowadays want to style and be pretty in the ring like Ali and Sugar Ray. The best way to protect your head is to keep your guard up. It looks good to slip punches with your hands down at the waist, but at some point, one of those punches will connect clean. People always look at the boxer who got hurt without asking why."
Junious Hinton is working with roughly 50 young men at the Leonard facility on Barlowe Road with three other trainers. Hinton is paid minimum wage by Maryland Capital Park and Planning for two hours a day but, he often puts in extra time to instruct his sons and other youngsters.
"I know on several occasions where the father would dig deep in his own pocketto help youth, particularly in that community Palmer Park ," said Correa. "He stresses that the kids stay in school and off the drugs."
After graduation, Bandele plans to enlist in the Air Force and study computer science.
"My father has always stressed education over boxing," he said. "At any given time, if you don't take it boxing seriously you can get the smarts knocked out of you and where will you be then?"
Jemal plans to make a career out of boxing and wants to go to college, as well. "At first I didn't like boxing," he said. "I quit five times, but after I started winning, I enjoyed it more."
The Hinton brothers hope to qualify for the 1987 Pan American games, hoping an impressive showing there will put them in striking distance of a spot on the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.
"If I can produce one world champion, not necessarily one of my sons, although it would be nice . . . " said Junious Hinton, gazing out across the gym through eyes surrounded by scars, remnants of a brutal career. "If this happens, then all my cuts, bruises and sacrifices would have been well worth it."