District Heights super bantamweight Jemal Hinton believes in "keeping it in the family."
Son of a former professional fighter and brother of a successful amateur boxer, Hinton (14-0, 11 knockouts) defends his World Boxing Council Continental Americas title tonight at 9 in the Grand Hyatt Hotel downtown. Looking to relieve Hinton of his championship belt is San Antonio's Rafael Ortega (11-4, 10 knockouts).
"My training has been excellent for five months, since my last fight," said Hinton, 21 and a graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt. "I never got out of condition and all that had to be sharpened was my punching skills."
Hinton's brother, Bandele, now a computer specialist, fought several years in the amateur ranks. Their father, Junious, who fought 11 years professionally as a middleweight, trains his champion son.
"He calls all the shots. I hope we can keep a strong, mutual relationship until it's all over," Jemal Hinton said.
Also working in the corner: famed Detroit manager Emanuel Steward, who has managed 10 world champions, including multiple title holder Thomas Hearns.
In the opposite corner waits Ortega, and his manager, Blackie Ramon, said he "did not come all this way not to win. The reason I fight him is that I know he always has a chance to win."
Three Soviet boxers will make their Western debuts on tonight's card, two against area fighters.
"They have over 300,000 amateur boxers in the Soviet Union," said Steve Crosson, tonight's promoter and an ex-WBC official. "It's a huge amount of talent. I went to Moscow in May and this is the first group to come over under this agreement."
Gorky welterweight Alexander Buskanov takes on Marvin Lanson of Winston-Salem, N.C.; Victor Potekhin (from the city of Perm) faces the District's Dexter Mason and D'mitry Epishin, also of Perm, meets Washington's Dion McIntyre.
Also, Alexandria's Anthony Suggs (4-0) will meet James Barnes (2-0) of the District in a lightweight bout.
The Hinton-Ortega fight is scheduled for 12 rounds; all other bouts are four.