Lexington's 'Rocky' Kinchen packs a punch at 14 years old

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJune 10, 2014 

William "Sarge" Farris isn't one to mince words, especially when the coach is talking about one of his prized pupils at Lexington Legends Boxing Inc.

Just listen: "I believe Thomas 'Rocky' Kinchen is going to be bigger and larger than 'Schoolboy' Darrin Van Horn."

The Schoolboy being a former world champion from Lexington in two weight divisions.

Rocky being the younger brother of national champion Samantha Kinchen of Lexington.

Just like his big sister, Rocky has Olympic aspirations.

Having just turned 14, though, he's looking at 2020.

"I've had friends that have asked over the last year in particular with Samantha's success ... is this legitimate?" Alex Kinchen, father of the fighters, said of the Olympics topic. "And at first it kind of took us a little by surprise. Do we dare buy into this?

"And yet the farther along we've gotten, as some of the Olympic coaches will call or tweet and keep up after the World Championships, yeah, it's legitimate. And nobody's going to give it to either one of them. We know that. There's nothing guaranteed. But it is a legitimate opportunity and possibility. So for Samantha, 2016 is the goal. And for the two of them, in 2020, they want to be a brother-sister combo in that. And it could happen."

Samantha, bronze medalist at last year's Junior World Championships, couldn't be prouder of her brother, who will be a freshman at Henry Clay High School in the fall.

"A lot of people don't realize that Thomas is better than me," Samantha said. "He is a performer. He has better skill and technique than anyone I've ever seen, and I don't care if you're a pro or not."

It was Rocky who first got the bug to box in the Kinchen family. Samantha followed him into the sport.

"When I was about 5, I watched Rocky movies and I really liked boxing," Rocky said. "So I kept asking my parents for about a year: 'Dad, Mom I want to go to the boxing. I want to go.' And they kept saying 'son, there is no boxing for kids.'

"About a year later, my dad met Sarge at this pastor's breakfast and they got to talking, and my dad said 'well, can I just take my son over, hit the bag a few times?' So I went the next day and Sarge said I was a natural, and I stuck with it ever since."

Farris estimates that Rocky, a 5-foot-5, 145-pounder, is 25-5 in his career.

"I think Rocky does a lot of things extremely well," Farris said. "I think what stands out is his in-your-face pressure. He is being taught and he knows that pressure can bust a pipe. What will it do to a human?

"So he's in your face constantly, wears down his opponent. Breaks them down until he begins to put his famous signature left hook, like Rocky Marciano and like the Rocky that we see in the movies."

Rocky likes several sports, but he has a special place in his heart for boxing.

"It's not like any sport. I play football and basketball, and it's just so different, so unique," he said. "It's just you and the other guy just going at it. It's sometimes calming, sometimes it's just fun."

Rocky is fresh off his biggest win to date, at last month's Region 5 Junior Olympics in Lima, Ohio.

Fighting in the 145-pound weight class finals, he scored a 2-1 decision over Antonio Davis of Cincinnati.

"For all the fight, I controlled it mainly and just stuck to my game plan. And when I do that, I'll come out with the win." Rocky said. "This guy was more of a speed fighter. So he moves a lot. My game plan with that style, since I'm shorter than most of the opponents I fight, is just to pressure them. Get 'em off their game, get 'em off-balance. Make them fight when they don't want to fight."

Rocky's next bout is scheduled for June 28 at Legends Boxing Arena (1195 Versailles Road). His opponent has yet to be determined.

He says it will be good to be back in the ring for the first time since his regional title.

Whoever his opponent turns out to be, expect Rocky to force the pace.

He has things he wants to accomplish. He wants to be bigger than Schoolboy.

"And if I go pro," he said, "I will definitely want to be the world champion."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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