Manny Steward's Kronk Gym Being Considered For TV Series
Respected boxing trainer, Emanuel "Manny" Steward told FanHouse that he was recently approached about the prospect of being the focus of a television series devoted to "The Kronk Gym," which he ran in Detroit.
"I've been told that there is something in the works right now to do a complete television series called, 'The Kronk,' similar to 'The Wire,' like they did in Baltimore," said Emanuel Steward, who is in New York training former three-time world champion, Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 knockouts), for Saturday night's challenge against WBA junior middleweight (154 pounds) champion, Yuri Foreman (28-0, eight KOs).
"[The series] would be something that goes beyond the boxing," said Steward. "It would deal with all of the other things that the children that we taught had to overcome just in their every day lives living in the neighborhood."
Run out of the basement of the oldest recreation center of the hard-scrabble Michigan city, "The Kronk" was a refuge for young, wayward inner city youth. The gym spawned such boxing champions as Hilmer Kenty, Thomas Hearns, Milton McCrory, and, Jimmy Paul, to name just a few.
"The kids always had to deal with the drug-dealers, stuff like that. I mean, there's a whole lot more to what we did at The Kronk than just the boxing," said Steward of a gym which opened shortly after World War I in 1920, and which closed in 2006. "It's about the childhoods of all of the fighters, and the tough things that they always had to endure just to live a decent life or simply to survive the streets."
Kenty became The Kronk's first world champion in 1980, after which Hearns, McCrory, Paul, and, Duane Thomas followed.
"From Tommy Hearns on, the kids just persevered, to the point where when they got good. A lot of times, they might end up even fighting each other for amateur championships," said Steward. "I remember that one time, Milton McCrory ended up fighting Dujuan Johnson and getting knocked out."
In a recent column penned by Thomas George of FanHouse.com, Steward's former assistant, Prentiss Byrd, complimented the well known trainer.
"He took kids out of their backyards at 13- and 14-years-old and made them world champions. All of the other great trainers were hand-fed. Emanuel raised all of his kids," said Byrd, who worked with Steward from 1978 through 2001 and currently leads amateurs for the Los Angeles-based All-American Heavyweight Academy owned by TV producer Michael King.
"And then he took the bar higher with fighters who turned to him to recapture their glory," said Byrd. "Think of Tiger Woods in golf or Michael Jordan in basketball and Emanuel's contribution to boxing compared to theirs' in their sport is 10 times greater. He is the best that ever did it."
Johnson was proof, however, that Steward was not able to save everyone.
Johnson's final fight of a career, which ended with a mark of 21-3, with 17 knockouts, was a June, 1984, ninth-round stoppage of Brian Janssen, who entered the fight with a record of 19-1-1, with 13 KOs.
Rounds five through seven were brutal, with each fighter bleeding. Johnson, his face badly swollen, won the bout with a devastating hook that finished Janssen.
Less than four months later, however, Johnson was shot dead during a robbery.
"The lives of those kids," said Steward, "It was never going to be easy."