De­mo­li­tion be­gins on leg­endary Kronk Gym

The Detroit News - - Region - BY SARAH RA­HAL The Detroit News

Detroit — The orig­i­nal home of the Kronk Gym, the world-renowned train­ing cen­ter that pro­duced such box­ing cham­pi­ons as Tommy “The Hit­man” Hearns, be­gan un­der­go­ing de­mo­li­tion this week on the city’s west side.

The build­ing that first housed the gym, at McGraw and Junc­tion, was built in the 1920s. The gym, founded by Emanuel Stew­ard, made the city an in­ter­na­tional hub of box­ing. It closed in 2006 and re­lo­cated to its cur­rent home at 9520 Met­te­tal.

Stew­ard trained 41 world­cham­pion fight­ers through­out his ca­reer, most notably Len­nox Lewis, Wladimir Kl­itschko and Hearns, all of whom called the Kronk Gym home. Stew­ard died in Oc­to­ber 2012.

The re­moval will cost the city $239,000, and city of­fi­cials said there are no plans for the site.

The build­ing was de­stroyed in a large fire on Oct. 7. By the time fire­fight­ers ar­rived, flames had reached the sec­ond floor. It took four hours to ex­tin­guish the blaze, said Deputy Fire Com­mis­sioner Dave For­nell.


On Aug. 11, a small fire sparked again in the rear of the build­ing. The build­ing was va­cant dur­ing both fires.

Sylvia Stew­ard-Wil­liams, Stew­ard’s daugh­ter who car­ries on his legacy run­ning the gym now on Met­te­tal, said she was not aware the build­ing would be torn down.

“That was our his­tory, that was our life,” she said. “We’re get­ting ready to fly out to a box­ing expo in Ve­gas to­mor­row, but I have to go there and see it.”

Stew­ard-Wil­liams said she had been go­ing to the gym since 1970, when her fa­ther started train­ing box­ers there.

“My fa­ther’s heart lived in that gym. He’d still pay for the (prop­erty) even af­ter we moved out be­cause his heart was so much with those kids who wanted that space to train,” she said.

Mark Hall drove by the site Thurs­day and saw a few work­ers and a de­mo­li­tion crane. He said he had to stop and take a photo “be­cause it’s just an amaz­ing his­toric site.”

“Very dis­ap­point­ing, the his­toric build­ings make Detroit a unique place, and this build­ing had so much his­tory in it, it’s a shame to lose it,” said Hall, 22. “We lose our iden­tity when we lose stuff like this. I wish it could have been saved like so many other build­ings are be­ing saved right now.”

Courtesy of Mark Hall

De­mol­ish­ing started Thurs­day of the orig­i­nal Kronk Gym lo­cated at McGraw and Junc­tion in Detroit.

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