Though he's a relative newcomer to the sport of Muay Thai kickboxing, Adam Hines is quite accomplished.
The 11-year-old Yavapai-Apache was crowned a North American champion at the International Kickboxing Federation (IBF) tournament held this past summer. Hynes, who lives in Camp Verde, Arizona, participated at the IBF event, which was staged at a Walt Disney World resort in Orlando in July. There were eight entrants in Hines' division, the Novice 75-80 pound category, for those aged 11 and 12.
As it turned out, Hines only fought twice, winning both bouts, before being declared the champion in his grouping. "We had high expectations for him in his division," said Clifford Larson, who coaches Hines at Champs Gym in Camp Verde.
The IBF tournament was open to any fighter who wanted to take part. Hines entered the event without much prior experience - he had lost his only other fight earlier this year. "He only started training last year," Larson said. "And he never really showed a desire to fight. He just wanted to train."
Though he was not successful in his first fight, Larson felt Hines could indeed have some success in the sport and encouraged him to attend the IBF tournament. "He was our hardest working kid in the gym," Larson said.
Hines' younger brother Avery, who is 10, also participated at the IBF tournament. He was eliminated after losing his opening bout in his 106-110 pound weight class.
As for the elder Hines, he's fought twice since capturing his North American title. He has a 3-2 record since losing a bout in September before rebounding to register a win at a mid-October event.
Larson is not quite sure when his champion fighter will next step into the ring. "I'm trying to get Adam a fight by December," he said.
And he's also trying to convince the Hines brothers to think about entering some boxing events. "There's more opportunities to compete," Larson said. "In boxing there are amateur events almost every weekend. You can end up having like 40 fights in a year. With Muay Thai there just aren't as many events around."
Adam Hines has yet to have his first boxing match. "He's done a little bit of sparring but he said he doesn't like it because he doesn't use his legs," Larson said. "With Muay Thai you train with your hands, feet, elbows and knees. You're basically using your whole body as a weapon."
Hines said is willing to start focussing on boxing as well. That's because he realizes it will get him considerably more action inside the ring. "I want to have more fights," he said.
Hines' mother Dawn Beauty said there will be a bit of an adjustment period for her son now that he will in all likelihood start focussing more on boxing. "Adam is really good at Muay Thai," she said. "It seems like a bit of a challenge to get him boxing now. You have to catch yourself from doing something you're trained to do."
Though he's just 11, Larson said Hines is somebody that other Native youngsters are starting to look up to. "He's inspiring to other kids as well," Larson said, adding he's hoping others follow the youth's lead and start coming to the gym. "A lot of kids don't like to work out. Obesity is a big time problem here on our reservation as it is everywhere else."
Larson predicts Hines will have his share of fights in 2015. "I think he's going to have a busy year," he said. "We want him as active as possible this coming year."