Gary Hinton, 29-5-2, 11 KO’s was a southpaw fighter from Philadelphia, PA who won the IBF Super Lightweight title in the 1980’s; however, he is best remembered for his performance against boxing Hall-of-Famer and legend Aaron Pryor. Symbolic of his fighting style, Hinton was the self-proclaimed “Executioner” because of the way he executed his boxing skills to perfection to defeat his opponents.
The Blue Horizon and the Spectrum in Philadelphia played home for Gary Hinton at the start of his boxing career, which began on January 24,1978 against Billy Jones. Unspectacularly, Hinton won his first nine fights, with only two victories coming by way of knockout. Furthermore, Hinton defeated Jones three times in his first four fights, with only the third fight ending by stoppage.
On July 3, 1980, Hinton faced another young prospect in Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown at the Resorts International in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Unfortunately, Gary came away on the losing end this time on the judge’s scorecards. Brown would later go on and win the vacant IBF Lightweight title against Melvin Paul in 1984.
In his next fight, Hinton struggled with Ernest Jackson, another fighter from the city of “Brotherly Love”, on October 10th of the same year. Gary was able to salvage a bad year by returning home, and scoring a knockout victory over Jerry Graham at Wynne Ballroom in Philadelphia on November 12th. The following year, Hinton was able to win five of his six fights, with three of them coming by stoppage. A knockout victory over Teddy Hatfield at the Martin Luther King Arena (Philadelphia) on September 2nd was a big win over another good young prospect.
Inactivity plagued Gary over the next two years, as he only fought six times over the course of the next twenty-four months. Only a win over undefeated Steve Mitchell on August 31, 1983 in Atlantic City was against an opponent with a winning record.
Gary Hinton would have a very productive year in 1984, winning both bouts against solid fighters. What would be a turning point in his career, Hinton defeated Jerome Kinney on March 26th to win the USBA Super Lightweight title by twelve-round unanimous decision. Kinney had entered the contest with twenty wins and only one loss on his ledger. On July 11th, Hinton successfully defended his title by winning a majority decision against a formidable opponent in Brett Lally. After a banner year for the young contender, Hinton was able to secure his first opportunity for a world title.
On March 2, 1985, undefeated IBF Junior Welterweight champion Aaron Pryor, recognized as one of the best fighters of his generation, made his mandatory title defense against Hinton in Atlantic City. The two were not strangers to each other. Hinton had lost split decision to Aaron Pryor in the amateurs in 1976.
The non-flashy Hinton was a big underdog going into fight, despite being the IBF number one contender. Pryor was unarguably one of the two best fighters in the world, but was unable to secure a fight with any other big name at this time. Two of the biggest marquee names were no longer in the picture. Sugar Ray Leonard had retired again, and Ray Mancini had lost back-to-back fights against Livingstone Bramble. Pryor had showed signs of losing interest in his career after not securing any lucrative deals (along with a personal battle with drugs). The opportunity for Hinton to score a monumental upset was there for the taking.
The 28-year old Hinton held a 2- 1/2 inch height advantage, but a very slight reach advantage over the 29-year old Pryor. However, the question going into the fight was if Hinton could withstand Pryor’s early onslaught.
Pryor, the non-stop, hard punching IBF Junior Welterweight champion, displayed his typical aggressive style in early rounds. An accidental head butt near end of second round opened cut over Pryor’s right eye. Pryor, who was an excellent boxer, utilized his hand and foot speed to give him multiple angles to throw punches against Hinton.
Hinton, who developed swelling under his right eye after the fifth round, was able to score with his right jab and straight counter left in the middle rounds, just as Pryor started slowing down a little. Hinton appeared to wins rounds five thru seven after losing the first four to the defending champion. Pryor, who had only fought once in the previous year-and-half, had shown signs of rustiness early on during the fight.
Gary was able to hold his own against Pryor, especially when both men were exchanging punches on the inside. Rounds eight, nine and ten appeared to be evenly matched, with each fighter countering well. Neither man seemed to have a decided advantage, but Hinton was still effectively using his right jab and scoring with his straight left counter at times.
Aaron Pryor, who held the WBA Super Lightweight title from 1980 thru 1983 before vacating the belt, started the tenth round strongly, by stalking the challenger and scoring with both hands repeatedly. After a sluggish start, Pryor came on strong in the second half, winning five of the last seven rounds on the cards of judges Frank Cairo (who voted for Hinton) and Phil Newman and all seven on the card of judge Lawrence Wallace. Pryor dropped Hinton early in the fourteenth round with a right to the chin to secure the victory.
“When I hit him with that punch,” said Pryor, “I thought I was going home early. But he got up and said we’re going 15 rounds.”
At the end, one of the judges, Phil Newman, who gave Hinton seven of the first eight rounds, had the challenger ahead, 143-141, on the 10-point scoring system. But the other judges, Frank Cairo, by 143-141, and Lawrence Wallace, by a questionable margin of 146-139, disagreed. Gary Hinton had given the great Aaron Pryor a battle for fifteen rounds, but just fell short in his quest.
On August 23rd, Gary Hinton would retain his USBA Super Lightweight title against Joe Manley by settling for a twelve-round draw in their contest. Despite the decision, Hinton was back in line to fight for the IBF Super Lightweight title that was just stripped from Aaron Pryor for inactivity.
On April 26, 1986, in Toscana, Italy, Gary Hinton fulfilled his lifelong dream and captured the vacant title by scoring a 15-round unanimous decision over Reyes Antonio Cruz. The “Executioner” deployed a strong strategy of using his left jab and counterpunching skills to handle the Dominican fighter.
On October 30,1986, Gary Hinton travelled to Hartford, Connecticut to defend his IBF Light Welterweight Championship in a rematch with Joe Manley. Able to land enough counterpunches of his own, Manley knocked out Hinton in the tenth round to win the title.
Hinton would rebound and win his next four fights in a row, but a technical knockout loss to Saoul Mamby on August 24, 1989 convinced Gary to hang up the gloves.
In 2010, Gary Hinton was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame.Contact the Feature Writers