On October 25, 2012 the "Godfather of Detroit Boxing," Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward died from an undisclosed cause.
Last week the boxing world lost one of its last classic trainers. The luminary of Detroit's Kronk Gym, Emanuel Steward past away a day after news broke that he was extremely sick. By the 26th his sister Diane Steward-Jones was ordering the sign at 19239 West Warren to be taken down while hall of fame boxer Thomas Hearns, other Kronk fighters, and trainers looked on in bewilderment.
Steward-Jones explained to Detroit Free Press' Mike Brudenell that her actions were done, “to safeguard the legacy.” Citing how Steward's failed downtown Detroit restaurant was ransacked soon after it closed down. She has a reason for the fear, especially if you know the history of the Kronk Gym name.
The original Kronk Gym was founded in 1920 in the basement of Detroit's oldest recreational center. By the 1970's Kronk had become one of boxing's few world class gyms. Kronk was still a dingy basment, and would be considered less aesthetically pleasing than even Cus D'Amoto's gym in the Catskills, or present day Wildcard Boxing but, what that basement created, were boxers with beautiful skills.
If you were 8 years old or older, and had $35 dollars you were welcome to train in Kronk Gym for the year. No questions asked. Local kids boxed beside legends like Hearns, Camacho, Holyfield, Lewis, world champs Steve and Milton McCrory, Duane Thomas, and Jermaine Taylor. Most of these champions trained under Emanuel Steward.
When asked last year by Boxeomundial why he was still a successful trainer, Emanuel humbly spoke of the disappearing role of the boxing trainer as teacher.
...those simple basic things no one's teaching anymore. Everyone wants to immediately jump in the ring and learn how to make a great show on the pads. We have to go back to the basics. No one wants to teach basics, and most of them don't know how to teach basics. And it's very difficult for someone to teach something that they don't know...There's a big shortage of what we call it, “trainers as teachers.”
That's what Emanuel Steward was. He was a teacher in a tough city. If you learned your lessons you graduated to the fisticuffs of the squared-circle. You earned a skill, and self-respect. When the City of Detroit threatened to close Kronk down he spearheaded an online fund raising campaign. When scavengers stole the copper pipe plumbing from the recreational center in 2006 forcing the city to abandon the building, Emanuel moved the club to its West Warren address using donations, and his personal finances.
In his last few years, Steward had begun a campaign to revitalize the abandoned center. He also began leading workshops for trainers in the hope of creating more “trainers as teachers.” Emanuel Steward will best be known as a teacher who taught boxers, trainers, and city kids wisdom, and self-respect using boxing as the medium for his lectures.
Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward leaves his family, the City of Detroit, and the boxing world at the age of 68. Cause of death undisclosed.
According to the Detroit Free Press Emanuel Steward's Memorial service will be held November 13th at Greater Grace Temple, Detroit. There will be a family hour at 11 AM and a service at noon. Boxingscene.com report that EPIX will present a tribute to Steward as part of their November 10th broadcast featuring world champion Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko will be fighting for the first time since 2004 without Steward in his corner.