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Kronk Gym was a boxing gym located in Detroit and led by legendary trainer Emanuel Steward. It was run out of the basement of the oldest recreation center of the City of Detroit, and became a household word in the sport of boxing and its gold shorts a magnet to young talent following the enormous success and high profile of multiple World Champion and Boxing Hall of Famer Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns in the 1980s.
The training facility opened shortly after World War I (~1920) and closed in 2006.
Original Detroit gym
Kronk began to earn fame during the late 1970s, when prospects like Hilmer Kenty, Thomas Hearns and Mickey Goodwin trained there. In 1980, Kenty became Kronk's first world champion, Hearns following him months after. In 1983, Kronk fighter Milton McCrory won the WBC's world Welterweight title vacated by Sugar Ray Leonard; Jimmy Paul beat Harry Arroyo for the International Boxing Federation's world Lightweight title in 1985. Duane Thomas, another Kronk fighter, beat John Mugabi for the WBC's world Jr. Middleweight title in 1986. McCrory's brother, Steve McCrory, was also a world champion who as an amateur won the Flyweight Gold Medal at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Among the many world champions who trained at Kronk at least once during their careers are Wilfred Benítez (in the Tucson gym), Héctor Camacho, Julio César Chávez, Naseem Hamed, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Jermain Taylor.
Exploiting the success of the Detroit facility, Kronk opened a second gym in Tucson, Arizona during the 1990s. A new host of fighters who would later become world champions arrived there, including Gerald McClellan. The Kronk "franchise" began to sell Kronk merchandise through catalog sales.
In 1998 Kronk opened Kronk Gym website, promoting the gyms and their fighters.
Detroit gym closure
In September 2006, the original gym at 5555 McGraw Street in Detroit closed temporarily after thieves stole copper water pipes, cutting off supply to the building. Boxers relocated to a Dearborn Gold's Gym. A "Save the Kronk" campaign aimed at keeping the facilities from closing due to budget shortfall was spearheaded by Emanuel Steward. The campaign would ultimately work toward building a new Kronk.
The gym and recreation center was officially closed by the Recreation Department on November 28, 2006 due to the prohibitive cost of repairs to the plumbing and building infrastructure.
In the past few years, the Detroit gym relocated to a new facility in a storefront on West Warren Avenue.
Proposed new Detroit gym
The abandoned Kronk Gym in Detroit may see new life under a proposal to renovate the battered two-story building and revive the area around it. The effort was again being spearheaded by Emanuel Steward, the gym's legendary trainer. However, after Steward's October 2012 death the future of Kronk Gym grew more uncertain, compounded by Steward's sister, Diane Steward-Jones, removing everything related to Steward from the gym just a day after his death prevent thefts of valuable memorabilia and “safeguard the legacy” of Steward and of the gym.
Former multiple world champ and Kronk Gym icon Thomas Hearns stated: “I don't know when and if we'll be open here again. I hope something good will happen.”