Emanuel Steward, the owner of the legendary Kronk Gym and a standout trainer for boxers including Thomas Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Oscar De La Hoya, died Thursday. He was 68.

Steward trained, helped train or manage some of the greatest fighters of the past 40 years out of the Kronk, a dingy, overheated basement gym that produced world champions like Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Lennox Lewis.

Steward was born in West Virginia and moved at the age of 12 to Detroit. In 1963, an 18-year old Steward, fighting as a bantamweight, won the national Golden Gloves tournament. According to a biography on his website, rather than go forward as a professional he went to work for the Detroit Edison Co. and in 1971 accepted a part-time position as head coach of the boxing program at the Kronk Recreation Center.

A dynasty was born.

The Kronk’s first professional champion was Hilmer Kenty, a lightweight from Columbus, Ohio, who started training there in 1978 and won the WBA title two years later.

The gym for years was seen as a way to keep kids out of trouble and off the streets in southwestern Detroit. In 2006, Detroit shut down the recreation center that houses the gym because of a major budget shortfall. The gym was allowed to remain open, but it put Steward in a difficult financial situation and he rented space at a gym in Dearborn so his young fighters could train.

Posted By: @BrookLynnDiva

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