Jemal Hinton was an outstanding amateur boxer, with a claimed record of 98-14.
On July 9, 1988, Hinton lost a 5-0 decision to McKinney in the bantamweight final of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Concord, California. McKinney went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
In his eleventh pro fight, Hinton stopped 1984 Olympian Robert Shannon in eleven rounds to win the World Boxing Council Continental America's Super Bantamweight Championship on November 16, 1989. He would successfully defend the title four times.
After defeating Lucilo Nolasco by a lopsided ten-round decision on January 21, 1992, Hinton abruptly retired from boxing at the age of 22.
In 2013, Hinton explained his reasons for retiring to Livefight.com: "I began to lose the desire that was needed to be victorious in battle, and a few other things that happened made me realize I needed to retire. ... There was something taking place inside me, spiritually and mentally, and it was causing me to tire of boxing. It was causing me to become confused about the whole idea of training and beating people up. ... Retiring was the bravest, most stand up decision I'd ever made, my feelings about boxing were changing and for the first time in my life I felt free."