Contender Four, Week Five -
Hino puts out the lights of "Ding-A-Ling Man"

By Barbara Pinnella

Last week on The Contender we witnessed fight number four, where Deon Elam won his fight over Richard Gingras. Since there was no exit interview due to the holiday, I was unable to speak with Richard. Today however, I got two interviews, one of which was Richard’s, and I would like to start with that before I move on to this weeks’ fight, results, and subsequent interview.

To those who saw the show last week, the fight between Elam and Gingras was supposed to be a walk in the park for Deon. Richard was seen by virtually everyone as the weakest link on the Blue Team. Elam must have taken him for granted to some extent. I asked Richard about that.

“Oh, definitely,” he laughed. “After the fight Deon said, ‘Jeesh, I really didn’t expect that.’ People don’t see that determination in training; they only see that in the fight. I think the cut had a little something to do with the scoring, but I would have had to go home anyway (because of that).”

He did well in the amateurs, with a record of 37-3. “I also won the New England Golden Gloves Title and the National Title. I didn’t have much training,” he continued, “I was training by myself, but I have a very heavy hand, I’m a very strong guy. I have a lot of heart and determination. I think that’s what got me on the show in the first place.”

Gingras has since relocated from New Hampshire to Massachusetts and his family visits him on the weekends. When the school year is over they will join him permanently. The reason for the move? Richard is training with Peter Manfredo, Sr. Among others, Jesse Brinkley is also out there, so he now has the benefit of a trainer and some sparring partners, two important things that were lacking in his quest to be good enough to be thought of as a threat.

Once considered a brawler, Richard is learning new ammunition for his arsenal. “Now that I’m training with Peter, he’s teaching me to box. I’m going to be a dangerous, dangerous person.”

Now that I have seen 10 men fight, there is a universal theme that I have mentioned before, and I’m sure most others have noticed.. Almost without exception, trainers Tommy Brooks and John Bray have been disappointed with their fighters for not following instructions. I asked Richard why he thought the boxers were taking their own road.

“A lot of it has to do with the cameras and the microphones, and just being in the spotlight,” Richard told me. “It really freaks people out, and there were some really good fighters in there. Not to mention that we’re across the world, we have brand new trainers that we just met a week prior; there are a lot of things involved.

“But,” he continued, “my fight was the first fight that, when they came in the ring, they had smile on their faces, even though I lost. I was the first one to have Tony Danza come into the losing locker room.”

Even though he did come up on the losing end, the experience gave Gingras a lot of confidence. “I have the natural ability,” he told me. “I just need a little more experience. I’ve only been boxing for five years. They say I’m like a vehicle with low miles,” he said, laughing.

Now, on to week five. First, we got to see where winner Elam would put his name for the second round. We will have to wait to find out who his opponent will be, as he put his name in the third tier, alone at the present time. He wanted to give his sore hand a bit more time to heal.

With the Gold Team once again in control, it was decided that Ehinomen “Hino” Ehikhanemor would fight. After the tension that had been going on between Hino and Ryan Coyne it seemed a good guess that Coyne would be Hino’s choice. But he had his reason for not picking him. Since Ryan had just come back from time off due to a cut over his eye, Hino did not want it thought that, should he win, it was just easy pickings for him. There was another fight that he had in mind, the hard-hitting “Ding-A-Ling Man” himself, Darnell Wilson. Hino said that he chose Wilson because “Darnell will be a better fight.”

But there might have been another underlying reason as well. Wilson was overweight. “Way over,” he later told me. “When they showed me weighing 210, my real weight was about 220. The way the show worked, you fought the same day you weighed in.”

He did make the 200-pound weight limit for the Cruiserweights, but it did take a toll on him. Ehikhanemor weighed in at 196 ¾.

Round one did not show a whole lot from either fighter. Darnell did go down in this round, and argue as he might that it was a slip, it was still ruled a knockdown. The second round found Wilson going down again, but this time it was ruled a slip. The more Darnell tried to do what he is best known for – that big knockout – it eluded him. Hino was too quick and managed to avoid almost all of the blows sent his way.

Round three was the best one for Wilson, and had the most continuous action. “Yeah, I fought with a little intensity in that round because I knew I had to do something after that bogus knockdown was called in the first round; kind of interesting. In a five round fight that’s really telling, so I was like, ‘I need to do something!’ I had no snappiness. I looked like I was 81 years old in the ring. I had no energy behind anything I was doing.

“Hino has a very good chin, he can take a punch. I hurt him, only one time, but it didn’t matter because I had no strength to throw anything behind it,” he laughed.

Unfortunately for him, rounds four and five continued to prove what Wilson had told me, that he was weak, slow, and ineffective. As the last bell sounded, a unanimous decision was awarded to Hino, 50-44, 50-45, and 50-44.

“I was so weak going to the ring, and it was my own fault, so…the guy came in, in great shape, that’s Hino, and he won, he won fair and square. He deserved to win.”

Just how did Darnell end up going to Singapore in such poor shape? He had fought Firat Arslan for the WBA Cruiserweight Title in May of 2008. “Well, during the summer I was just kind of chilling, and not training at all, especially about a month after I fought for the title, I didn’t do anything. Then talks started about being on the show, The Contender, but there was an opportunity before the show that I might have another fight that would put me right back in title contention again. But that didn’t pan out, and I was kind of bummed by that.”

Then the chance to do The Contender became a reality, and, physically ready or not, the opening for Wilson to go to Singapore was there. “I was like, ‘Oh, no!’” he told me, “but I wasn’t going to say no.”

If nothing else, Darnell learned from this mistake. “Oh, I will NEVER go into the ring like that again. It was scary, walking out from the dressing room and having to fight in a professional fight like that, I was so weak.

“But the experience with Contender was great. I met some great people, from the fighters to the staff of Contender. To get to go to Singapore, that was a place I’ve always wanted to go to, and it was beautiful; surpassed my expectations. It was a great opportunity and experience overall. and I was very happy to be part of it.”

So next week Team Gold will continue to have control of the fights. Three men are left on each team before we move into the second round.

Thanks to both Richard and Darnell for taking time to speak with me, and good luck to them both.

Be safe and God Bless,

Viva La Raza,