THE EARLY YEARS
Emanuel Steward was born in Bottom Creek, West Virginia. He was the first child of Manuel, a coal miner, and Catherine Steward.
In the mountainous area where he was raised, Emanuel spent most of his free time engaging in rough and tough physical activities. His favorite pastimes included swimming, wrestling, playing cowboys, dodge ball, shooting marbles and fighting.
When he was eight years old he received a pair of boxing gloves as a Christmas gift. At the time, no one would have ever imagined that these boxing gloves would begin a journey to fame, fortune and a historical legacy.
Emanuel became totally fascinated with this new game called boxing. He'd often sleep with his boxing gloves on his bed and would carry them everywhere he went. After beating up all of his friends --nobody wanted to play boxing with little Emanuel anymore. So he became creative and made makeshift punching bags by filling his pillowcases with newspapers and hanging them on tree limbs in his yard, where he'd punch at them until they burst. His parents would punish him for ruining their pillowcases; but little Emanuel's desire for boxing continued to grow rapidly, much to his parents displeasure.
In hopes of quelling Emanuel's thirst for boxing, it was decided that an illegal and unsanctioned boxing match would be held for him. Another mischievous boy from the neighboring town was recruited to fight Emanuel. The 'opponent' was a tough kid and was known as a bully around the town. It was expected that he would beat Emanuel and finally end his passion for boxing.
In a cigar-smoke filled barn, bets exchanged hands as grown men held the ropes up to form a makeshift boxing ring. The two youngsters entered the ring and began to fight. Emanuel immediately launched an all out attack that bloodied the other boys' nose bringing him to tears. Emanuel didn't stop throwing punches until an old man jumped into the ring and raised Emanuel's hand in victory. Thus, began a series of unsanctioned boxing matches that Emanuel engaged in over the next three years.
THE MOVE TO DETROIT
When he was eleven, his parents divorced. Emanuel's mother Catherine packed up her belongings and headed north for a new life in Detroit. With her she took Emanuel and his two younger sisters, Diane and Lavern. Emanuel didn't quite understand why he had to leave his West Virginia home and move all the way to Detroit, a place he had never even heard of. With his head pressed against the window of the train, he cried all the way. He was afraid of what life might be like in this new city.
It wasn't easy for a new kid in town, especially for one with a southern accent who was prone to fighting. Before long, Steward once again found himself getting into fights. In an effort to get Emanuel off the streets, his mother sent him to the local Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O.) and ordered him to resume his boxing career. He was the youngest boxer in the C.Y.O gym, and before long, he acquired the nickname "Sonny".
Although his mother found work at a small factory that manufactured folding doors, Emanuel assumed the role of the "man of the house"; working odd jobs to contribute to the family income. He delivered newspapers in the evenings, and on weekends assisted with groceries for locals at the super-market. He'd also cut grass, rake leaves and do odd-jobs to earn extra money for his family. During the winter months he'd shovel snow, in the summer months he sold ice cream. Emanuel made his ice-cream sales from a bicycle, which he rode for up to 14 hours a day, but with these earnings he was able to buy his own automobile before he was the legal age to drive it.
When Emanuel was thirteen, the boxing program at the C.Y.O. was shut down. As a result, he once again drifted back onto the streets and was having numerous run-ins with the law for street fighting. Soon the authorities were looking for him. Apparently, he had left another young man gravely injured after a street fight. Emanuel now faced the possibility of getting locked up. Since he was an honor student in school and rarely got into trouble when he was a member of a boxing gym, a deal was struck with the youth correctional department. The deal stated that if Emanuel resumed his boxing career he would avoid serving time in juvenile detention.
At the order of the authorities, Emanuel began training at the Brewster Recreation Center (once the home gym of Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson) in Detroit. He began training under the experienced tutelage of Jimmy Myland and Festus Trice, whom Emanuel credits with teaching him the fundamentals of boxing and proper balance. Whilst at Brewster, he won back-to-back Detroit Parks and Recreation Junior Tournament titles in 1959 and 1960.
LASKY RECREATION CENTER
In anticipation of fighting professionally, Steward began training at the Lasky Recreation Center with Coach Bill O'Brien. It was there that he sparred regularly with world professional lightweight contender, Gene Gresham. On weekends, he would train at the "Big D" gym, a gym used strictly by professional fighters. Steward was so advanced that everyone thought he was already a professional fighter.
In 1961, he won the local Golden Gloves title while representing the Lasky gym. Steward was a very talented and tough boxer, other fighters from the gym really admired Steward and many asked for fighting tips, it was here that Emanuel began training fighters. He trained Richard Alexander, Charles Murray, Orlandis McClain, James Johnson, Alex Farrar, Larry Luster, George Grant Jr., Roland Welborn, and Alvin Jones, all nine won amateur titles.
In the summer of 1962, Emanuel began dating Marie Steele. He soon began to bring her younger brother Elbert Steele Jr. along with him to the Lasky gym. Emanuel taught Elbert how to box, eventually coaching him to win a title.
EMANUEL'S GOLDEN GLOVE YEARS
Later that year, by winning Detroit's 1962 Golden Gloves title, Emanuel earned the chance to represent Michigan in the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions. This prestigious tournament was being held in Chicago, Illinois.
Going to Chicago was Emanuel's first trip outside of the state of Michigan since his arrival there almost a decade earlier. Catherine Steward was so proud of her boy that she bought him a $30 black suit, Emanuel's first suit ever.
As time would tell, the Chicago trip was a trip of many firsts. Emanuel had never stayed at a hotel before. He'd never eaten at a fine restaurant before. Since the fancy menu baffled him, to avoid embarrassment, he let someone else order for him. Dressed in his black suit Emanuel observed everything and kept a small journal of his new experiences.
It was this Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions that had a dramatic effect on Steward's life and belief system. The tournament brought champions from most major cities in America to compete against each other over a two-week period. At the conclusion of this tournament the winner would be declared as the champion and No. 1 amateur boxer in America.
During the first fight of the tournament Emanuel's dreams were shattered when he lost a close decision in a hard fought fight. Devastated and distraught, Steward had to watch the remainder of the tournament from the bleachers, which added to the humiliation. The tournaments' eventual champion was the boxer to whom Steward had lost the close decision. The sports writers acknowledged that the champions' toughest match had been against the boxer from Detroit. With that realization, Steward became even more frustrated knowing that with a little more experience and effort, he could have become the amateur boxing champion of America.
During his stay in Chicago, Emanuel was exposed to and thoroughly enjoyed a newly discovered world. After collecting all of the sweet smelling soaps in the Conrad Hilton hotel, he returned home to Detroit. Steward now saw his surroundings and neighborhood through different eyes. He realized there was a better world out there.
The Chicago trip became one of his life's greatest lessons. Emanuel graduated from high school as an honor student. The lessons learned while in Chicago, not only offered him exposure to another lifestyle, it also offered him a way off of the streets and out of trouble. Steward vowed to follow his dream and dedicated himself to a crime-free lifestyle.
With the help of Coleman A. Young, a neighborhood politician (who eventually went on to become Mayor of Detroit) Steward was soon hired at the Chrysler automobile plant. Steward had become a responsible young man and knew that leaving the life of crime and violence behind was the right move. Today, most of Emanuel's childhood friends are either in prison or deceased. Emanuel credits sports related experiences, in particular boxing, with changing the direction of his life.
Even though he had a full-time job, Emanuel became totally obsessed with winning the National Golden Gloves title and the diamond studded golden glove pendant that would be presented to the national champion. Steward won all of his fights from that point on, qualifying him for the 1963 National Golden Gloves Tournament. The tournament was once again held in Chicago.
After four consecutive victories, Emanuel, fighting with a badly damaged nose from a head butt in an earlier bout, was matched in the finals against Frank Glover, a hard punching boxer representing Columbus, Ohio. Glover, who was five years older and much more experienced than Steward, had knocked out most of his opponents en route to the finals. Glover was heavily favored to defeat Steward.
Steward was instructed to box safely and defensively against the power-punching Glover. Emanuel followed his corners instructions, but it didn't work--he lost the first round. Steward then made a crucial decision. He decided to abandon his corners instructions and abandon his normal fancy footwork style of boxing and risk it, all or nothing.
STEWARD BECOMES AMERICA'S BEST
At the beginning of the second round, to the surprise and delight of the sold-out Chicago stadium, he attacked his opponent and stood toe to toe with Glover until the final bell. As a result of his quick change of strategy, Steward out fought Glover, winning the 1963 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions title in the bantamweight division and received his diamond-studded gloves pendant. Following the impressive victory, he collapsed from exhaustion en route to the dressing room. His corner men that night were Taylor Smith, Russ Gilbert and Chuck Fecay. His coach was Bill O'Brien.
Although Steward was the only Detroit boxer to win an individual title, Detroit through its overall team performance, won its first team title in twenty-four years. The team trophy was presented to team manager Mr. Frank Connolly, a man who always had great belief in Emanuel and knew it was his performance that secured team success.
During this tournament, Steward befriended a welterweight from New Jersey; a classy fighter named Larry Hazzard. Later in life, Hazzard went on to become a world-class boxing referee and served as the New Jersey State Boxing Commissioner for a number of years. Larry and Emmanuel were long-time good friends and often reminisced about that 1963 tournament.
As a result of his experiences, Steward now believes that to obtain the most out of life and to succeed at the very highest level - one must be willing to take RISKS and combine it with DETERMINATION, DISCIPLINE and SACRIFICE. Steward, credits much of his success to this combination.
Upon his return home, Steward entered Elbert Steele Jr. and his three other young boxers into the local Junior Tournament. All four won titles and repeated this feat again in 1964. Steele won three consecutive championships and never lost a fight during his entire career.
With a final amateur record of 94 wins from 97 fights, Emanuel's dream of becoming a professional world champion was dealt a severe blow when he was unsuccessful in finding a trustworthy and competent manager to handle his pro career. His best offer came from a group of Californian businessmen and celebrities which included the late boxing trainer, Eddie Futch. The managerial offer required Steward to relocate to California, but he was still closely attached to his mother Catherine and his two younger sisters, Dianne and Laverne, who still lived in Detroit. Subsequently, he decided to turn down the offer to remain close to his family.
In 1964, Emanuel and Marie Steele wed. Marie would remain his wife until his passing. In the same year he had gotten married he also cut back on his boxing and began working at Detroit Edison Company as a construction laborer. He eventually progressed to journeyman electrician and later became their special projects director.
From the years of 1966 to 1969, Steward left the boxing world entirely to devote more time to his blossoming career at Detroit Edison. He attended evening classes for electrical engineering at Henry Ford Community College provided by Detroit Edison’s Electrician Apprenticeship Program. He quickly moved up the corporate ladder and went on to receive his four year degree in 1970, graduating as a Master Electrician.
In addition to his job at Detroit Edison, Steward would occasionally promote musical events, concerts, parties and cabarets. Steward's events were always a success and although the demand grew, Emanuel was never as passionate about this as he was about boxing. During the summer of 1969, Emanuel's half-brother, James Steward (who was fifteen at the time) left West Virginia to come to live with him in Detroit.
By that time, Emanuel and Marie had two daughters, Sylvia and Sylvette. Emanuel and his family later moved into a new home in a quiet subdivision on Detroit's far west side.
THE BEGINNING OF KRONK
Shortly after his arrival in the Motorcity, James asked his older brother Emmanuel to teach him how to box, Emanuel had been out of boxing for some time but agreed to show James a few moves. The two headed to the closest boxing gym, the Kronk Recreation Center located at 5555 McGraw Street on Detroit's south-west side.
The center was used by the community for general recreation. The two-story 1920's building was made of red brick with rust stains weeping from metal grills covering the windows. Upon entering the building it doesn't seem like the typical setting for a boxing gym. Kids played around, retirees took their chances at bingo, people square danced and sewed. But down an unmarked set of steel stairs was the basement, where a boxing ring and training equipment stood. It was there that Emanuel began training James.
HOW KRONK GOT THE NAME
The Kronk Recreational Center was named after a former Detroit City Councilman, John F. Kronk. The neighborhood in which the building stands was once a very heavily populated Polish community. Councilman Kronk, was also of Polish heritage, so they named the center in his honor.
To everyone’s surprise, after only five months of training Emanuel had coached James into a place in the Detroit Golden Gloves. James won the tournament and was named the 1970 Detroit Golden Gloves Champion. James Steward became one of Detroit's hottest prospects. He had a graceful and flamboyant style, earning the nickname of 'Baby Ali'. In 1971, Steward accepted the part-time position as head coach of the Kronk Recreation Center's boxing program. The job paid $35 a week.
Later that year, Emanuel once entered his brother James, along with six other novice boxers, into the Detroit Golden Gloves Tournament. After 21 consecutive victories, his young boxers won the team title and thus began the Kronk dynasty. This feat brought about national attention and has never been duplicated. Kronk's 1971 championship team consisted of Louis Holland, James Stokes, Edward Gaston Jr., Demond Hickman, James Steward, Wilson Bell, Robert Johnson and recreation center's director Gus Finney.
HOW KRONK GOT THE COLORS
During the summer of 1971, most of Steward's young team of champions joined the armed services. When two of his boxers, Wilson Bell and Edward Gaston returned home on leave they gave Emanuel their red and gold U.S Marine Corp boxing robes. As a result of this, the Kronk colors were born. Up until this time, Kronk's colors were blue and gold. The colors then became red, gold and blue.
In 1972 Emanuel formed a cosmetic distribution company and spent many hours in the evenings operating this new business. This meant less time in the gym. Within months the fighters he'd taken to championships the previous year seemed to have disappeared and when Emanuel refocused his attention back on the team; there was no team. With no one to coach, Steward, who still worked at Detroit Edison, began spending his evenings at the gym working out. Shortly after, he began teaching a ten-year-old youngster named Bernard Mays how to box.
It is said that because of this one-on-one situation, Bernard Mays was Emanuel's best-trained boxer. Mays became so outstanding that at age twelve he was boxing in main events before sold out crowds at amateur shows. At the ages of fourteen and fifteen Mays won National A.A.U. Junior Olympic titles, being named the most outstanding boxer each time. Nicknamed “SuperBad”, Mays became legendary amongst the amateur scene.
In '72, Emanuel formed the ESCOT boxing club. ESCOT stood for Emanuel Steward's Champions Of Tomorrow, an organization that would promote monthly inner and inter-city amateur boxing shows. Due to the tremendous success and notoriety of Bernard Mays, many other junior boxers (ages 10-15) began coming to Kronk. Amongst the young talent was Kronk's most notable champion, Thomas Hearns. Another was Duane Thomas (age 13) who joined Kronk after losing a fight at a local amateur show in 1973 promoted by Steward. Duane requested a rematch on ESCOT's next show against a boy who beat him. Steward agreed and Duane won his rematch. Thirteen years later, Duane Thomas became Kronk's fifth professional world champion.
Thus, 1972 turned out to be a big year for Steward. He was promoting events, both boxing and musical. He had formulated the cosmetic company (named House of Escot), had an outstanding amateur team and was then promoted at Detroit Edison, to a job created specifically for him, Special Projects Director. Things were looking good for Emanuel, but he knew with all this going on, something had to give.
THE RETURN OF KRONK
On March 2, 1972, Steward made a brash move and decided to leave Detroit Edison. He chose to devote his time to training and developing his rapidly growing stable of young boxers. He also stopped promoting music events. Detroit Edison suggested that Steward only take a leave of absence. Instead, Steward chose to resign completely because he felt if things ever got tough, he would somehow be tempted to return to his old secure job. He put himself in a "survive or die" situation.
After leaving Detroit Edison, Steward experienced rough times. He invested everything he had into the cosmetic distribution company and the business became quite successful.
Suddenly, in 1973 he was hit with the news that the company that supplied his products was going out of business due to legal issues with the government. Once again, Steward's survival instincts kept him from going under. His insurance agent suggested that he try selling life and health insurance. He disliked insurance salesmen, but after passing his insurance and N.A.S.D. tests he soon began selling life and health insurance along with mutual funds with the IDS (Investors Diversified Services) Company. Despite the ups and downs of his newfound career, Steward maintained a core of boxers that he continued to train regularly in the evenings.
By the time 1974 rolled around, the Kronk boys were still dominating the local boxing scene. In many local, regional and even national tournaments it was not unusual for a Kronk boxer to face another Kronk boxer in the finals after eliminating their competition. They also were becoming a powerful force on the national scene. Dwain Bonds was the 1974 National A.A.U. Heavyweight Champion, and Bernard Mays was the National A.A.U. Junior Olympic Champion.
Throughout 1975 Steward's team and accomplishments had grown tremendously. Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young directed some of his appointees, Jim Ingram, Leon Atchinson, Barbara Tait and Harry Waits to find financial assistance from some of the city's funds to partially assist Steward with his rapidly growing financial burden. During this time, Steward was the only trainer at Kronk and would spend all of his time and most of his own money on the Kronk fighters. The Photo below is of Emanuel, Marie Steward and the Kronk Team in Ohio. Bernard Mays is seen wearing his Kronk Jacket.
To cover expenses for team jackets, outfits, and out-of-town trips, Steward usually did electrical work on the weekends. Local businessmen Sam Lafata, Roland Gaines, Joe Strawder and Willie Horton admired Steward's devotion to his fighters and began making donations to help finance some of the out-of-town trips.
During the busy formative years Emanuel would frequently get volunteer help and assistance. Supporters included, Dr. Richard Rasmussen and his wife Patricia, Mr. and Mrs. Theotrice Chambers, Irene Goodwin, Dale and Rose Grable, Melvin McCrory and Bernie Humphrey were parents who frequently helped assist with transportation. Long time supporters include Chuck Davis, Odis Buffington and Jacque Farmer (first trainer of Milton and Steve McCrory, Duane Thomas as well as Jimmy and Danny Paul). Harvey Moore, who was Emanuel's best friend also spent a lot of his free time helping Emanuel.
told of the entire team sharing four Egg McMuffins before embarking on a 10-hour road trip. Steward remembers selling his watch in exchange for gasoline and being stranded with his team on highways during snowstorms. There was a time the entire Kronk team had to sneak out of the window of a Las Vegas motel, because the tournament manager blew all of their money gambling and skipped town.
As a result of these character-building experiences, it was during these years that the Kronk boxers formed their bond and loyalty to each other and to Steward. On a few occasions they got into free for-all brawls with opposing teams. These fights often included their coach, Emanuel. Strangely enough, there were never any arguments or physical confrontations between teammates, the respect that Emanuel instilled into them was evident in everything the kids partook in.
As the years past, Emanuel kept a close relationship with most of his former pupils. Many of those who never became professional fighters, Emanuel remembered and assisted in any way he could. He often gave financial aid towards their college educations. There were some who did go professional and also received aid. Emanuel always looked upon his fighters as extended family. Like Steward, many of the Kronk fighters were from stressed and fatherless homes. Steward, who was raising a young family his own, cared for the boxers as if they where his family.
In 1976, Thomas Hearns, Mickey Goodwin and Rick Jester, although inexperienced, were the Olympic hopefuls of the young Kronk Team. Hearns, boxing with a broken nose, lost a decision in the A.A.U. finals to eventual Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis. Goodwin, after winning two bouts in Olympic Trials, withdrew because of a severe cut above the eye. Rick Jester lost a decision in the Olympic Trials, ending Kronk's hopes for Olympic competitors.
(note: more staff members added at the end of document)
SUGAR RAY LEONARD
In the spring of '76, Emanuel received a call from a good friend of his, Dave Jacobs, the trainer of a very talented amateur boxer named Ray Leonard whom Emanuel liked to call "Super Bad". Dave explained to Emanuel that due to injury and political problems Ray had failed to qualify for the Olympic Trials and he was presently under some kind of suspension. Leonard's last chance for qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials would be to compete in the Eastern Regional Tournament, which had no location at the time and would soon be going up for bids.
Emanuel, along with Leon Atchison and Lonnie Bates of the Detroit Recreation Program, and other civic and business leaders, raised enough money to win the bid, bringing the event to Detroit. They hosted the Eastern Regional Trials in Detroit, even though the city had no serious competitors. Ray Leonard became Detroit's adopted boxer. He worked out at the Kronk Center and made many friends in Detroit during the tournament, which he won.
When Leonard fought in the final Olympic trials in Cincinnati, the entire Kronk team was there cheering him on. Ray went on to win the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics games and became an "overnight celebrity.” Upon his return from the Olympics, Leonard was presented with the key to the City of Detroit. Emanuel and everyone at Kronk were extremely proud of Ray and his accomplishments.
In addition, Leonard remained close to Kronk throughout his entire career. When he was preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather Sr. in the fall of 1978, Leonard invited Hearns to Maryland to spar with him in preparation for the fight. While preparing for his 1988 title fight against Donnie Lalonde, Leonard surprised his old friends at the Kronk by coming in to train for a couple of days. Everyone at the gym was happy to see him back.
By 1977, 17-year-old Thomas Hearns was nearing his physical peak as an amateur boxer. He won the '77 National Golden Gloves in Hawaii. During this tournament he knocked-out defending champion Ronnie Shields, to whom he had lost two years earlier. Later that year Hearns won the National A.A.U. title in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Sugar Ray Leonard was one of the first to congratulate Hearns following his championship victory. Hearns went undefeated in international competition. In turn, Emanuel's talents were being recognized and he was named the 1977 U.S. National Coach of the year.
In boxing circles it has been said time and time again that there will never be an original boxing team story in history to compare to the success of the KRONK boxing team. From 1971 to 1984 Emanuel and his amateur boxers are remembered travelling in his old Cadillac, wearing their red and gold team gear. They dominated for years on both the local and the national level. Their legacy will live on forever.
By the end of 1977, Steward along with Hearns, then eighteen, decided that since Thomas had peaked as an amateur boxer, there was no need to wait until the 1980 Olympics. Thomas agreed. The decision was to either get a job to help his mother Lois or try professional boxing. Steward formed ESCOT Boxing Enterprises, Inc. to handle the business end of his new venture, professional boxing. He contacted attorney John F. Noonan to draw up contracts to be signed between himself, Hearns, and Mickey Goodwin. Both Hearns' and Goodwin's parents approved the contracts, and from then on Kronk was slated as a force in professional boxing.
Soon thereafter, a professional Michigan boxing promoter had heard of Steward's plan to turn Hearns and Goodwin pro. In an attempt to abort Steward's plan to transition into the pro ranks, the promoter made a deposit on the facilities for the same date Steward had intended on using to turn his guys pro. In a daring move Steward instead went directly to the executive office of Olympia Stadium, the largest and most expensive arena in Detroit, and cut a deal with their attorney Bruce Lahti and Linc Cavaleri, their general manager. Once again Steward's survival and salesmanship talents were called upon in order to raise money to promote the show. He got a second mortgage on his home and borrowed money from his grandparents in West Virginia. Prentiss Lewis Byrd, a young real estate friend he had met a year earlier who was a regular patron of the monthly Kronk amateur bouts, also volunteered time and money to help with the promotions.
Thomas Hearns made his professional debut on November 25th, 1977. Sugar Ray Leonard was on hand to lend support to the promotion and support Hearns and Emanuel. Ray hadn't forgotten the support they'd shown him going into the Olympics just one year earlier. After about three or four fights the size of the crowds increased. Professional boxing in Detroit was being revived, with Steward at the forefront of the action.
Things continued to grow and Steward’s fighters remained unbeaten. In 1979, Emanuel employed a female sportswriter from a local newspaper by the name of Jackie Kallen to work as a publicist for Kronk. Kallen learned the trade well and did a great job. Later in life Kallen became a boxing manager and received accolades for her involvement with world champion James Toney amongst others.
Also around this time, Bill Kozerski, of the University of Michigan's Dental Program and brother of Rosanne Kozerski-Brown, began doing voluntary photography work at Kronk fights. Upon graduating from dental school, Bill told Emanuel the he would rather promote boxing than become a dentist. Bill, along with matchmaker Tom Vacca, began promoting the Kronk fights of the 80's. Today he is still promoting and holds the distinction of promoting more fights than any other promoter in the history of Michigan.
Additionally, Lane Combs, one of the biggest supporters of Emanuel and the Kronk team came on board as the director of entertainment and social events. Lane became one of Emanuels best friends and remained a loyal supporter until his death in 2001.
BUILDING THE KRONK STAFF
Steward realized that he would need additional trainers if he was going to enter boxing's professional realm. Steward brought in Walter Smith and Floyd Logan to fill the needed roles. Both men were retired from the automobile plants and new boxing well. Almost three decades later, Smith and Logan were still with Kronk.
Kronk training staff over the years also included: - - - - - -*deceased
Ishmael Allah Bob Evans Tommy Roland
Tony Ayala, Sr. Bill Griffin Alex Sherer*
Gary Borden Jerry Hauser* David Shoulders
Tommy Brooks Junious Hinton Taylor Smith
John Brown Javier Lara Rudolph Stringer
Willie Brown* Stacey McKinney Troy Summers
Angel Caraballo Derek Meyers Don Thibodeaux
Eddie Carr Bill Miller Festus Trice*
Dave Collins* Steve Perez* Don Turner
Lee Crenshaw Sammy Poe* Delmar Williams
Al DeNapoli* Jesse Robinson Serena, Rhonda, Lannie, Victoria, Carol,
(note: more staff members added at the end of document)
Emanuel surrounded himself with skilled professionals and over the years built a great staff team. Kronk's comprehensive medical team included Dr. Fred Lewerenz Dr. Charles Howard of Scottsdale, Arizona, Dr. Anthony Daly, Jr. of California, Dr. Thomas Magnell, and working as cut-man was 2001 Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Citro.
Attorneys who provided legal counsel over the years included Charles Greenman, Agustine V. Arbulu, Mike Trainer, Peter Cobb, Art Greenstone, Kevin Wynne, Marc Risman, Ralph Richardson, Cornelius Pitts, David Landrey, Richard Lustig and Jeffery Yellen. Allen "Jocko" Hughes was head of security. Peter Goldfield was the official Kronk photographer. Lloyd Wilson, Jr. and Roosevelt Seals repaired equipment at the gym.
KRONK'S FIRST WORLD CHAMPION
In 1979, a former national amateur champion who at the time was refereeing amateur bouts in Columbus, Ohio, asked Steward to manage him. Initially, Steward refused, saying he didn't want to involve himself with any fighters other than the original members of the Kronk Team. A call from Ed Williams, a Columbus amateur coach whom Steward held in high regard, persuaded Steward to give the boxer a try. The young boxer’s name was Hilmer James Kenty.
Steward moved Kenty and his then girlfriend Barbara Page along with their young son Hilmer Jr. to Detroit and began training and managing him. In early 1980, Emanuel received a hot tip from a friend of his, Freddie Summers to go to Puerto Rico as quickly as possible to see about getting a title bout for Hilmer. For two days, Emanuel and two friends, all of whom were inexperienced in such matters, matched wits with one of the most skillful men in title bout negotiations, Pepe Cordero. The negotiations ended with Emanuel, along with his promoter friend John Yopp and attorney John Noonan, securing a title fight for Hilmer Kenty. The only problem was they had to come up with $300,000.00.
Kenty had only fought one ten rounder in his 16-bout career and that drew less than $2,000.00. Once again, with the help of his pal, Prentiss Byrd, and plenty of hard work and promotional efforts motivated mainly out of fear and desperation--they did whatever they had to do to make sure the fight took place.
On March 2, 1980, exactly eight years after Emanuel quit his job at the Detroit Edison company, Kronk had it's first champion in Hilmer Kenty. Although a big underdog, Kenty shocked the world by winning the lightweight championship of the world, knocking out Ernesto Espana in the 9th round. The fight took place at the sold out Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. That night, history was made with Joe Louis himself in attendance. On the same card, Thomas Hearns won the USBA welterweight title by knocking out Angel Espada in four rounds. Hilmer Kenty had a great amateur career. In 1974, he became the National AAU lightweight champion and brought home the National AAU lightweight champion title in 1975.
HEARNS BECOMES CHAMPION
With the promotional efforts of Bruce Lahti and Rosanne Kozerski-Brown of the Olympia Stadium staff, Thomas Hearns was in line for a title fight. Steward also received the consultation of Don Majeski, Billy Giles and Johnny Bos during this time. Local sports reporters Mike O'Hara, George Puscas and Jerry Green provided great local media coverage during these years and before long Hearns was a household name.
Unfortunately for the public, negotiations between Hearns and the camp of World Champion Jose 'Pipino' Cuevas had broken down. Promoter, Harold Smith of California stepped in after many failed attempts by both camps and was finally able to sign both parties.
In his first two years as a professional, Hearns chalked up an impeccable 24-0 record. Only two of those fights went the distance. At 21 years-old, Hearns would now face the biggest test of his career at this point against WBA champ Pipino Cuevas. This was Hearns' first title shot and it was against an opponent, who had never been off his feet in his professional career. On August 2nd, 1980, Hearns crushed Cuevas in two rounds in Detroit; recording his first title. Also that night, Kenty successfully defended his title for the first time.
In 1980, Emanuel and Thomas Hearns were honored in New York by the Boxing Writers Association of America as Manager and Boxer of the year, respectively. Kronk had become a dominant name in professional sports. Hearns went on to successfully defend his welterweight crown three times before losing in 1981 to former training partner and friend, Sugar Ray Leonard. The Leonard-Hearns fight introduced the Duva family's "Main Events" company to big time boxing. Today “Main Events” is one of the biggest promoters in the industry.
Around this time, the sports media began to notice Emanuel's penchant for the color gold, especially gold automobiles and his entire stable of boxers wearing gold outfits. Ben Greene, a New York sportswriter nicknamed Steward "The Goldfather", a name that stuck with Steward for the next two decades.
KRONK DOMINATES THE 80's
By late 1982, Steward had again maneuvered Hearns into another title shot; this time against Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Benitez. Hearns defeated Benitez in over 15 rounds and won his second title. Steward and Hearns were now famous and became the subject of many stories worldwide, including a Sports Illustrated spread which called Steward "The hottest trainer in boxing…and one respected for his independence and integrity".
During the early 1980's, Phoenix, Arizona became the second city home of the Kronk boxers. They fought and trained there often. The Phoenix fights were promoted by Steve Eisner, a former Detroiter who had known Steward since he was a Jr. Olympic Boxer.
KRONK BRINGS HOME THE GOLD
The Kronk Boxing Team continued to expand and began to attract many new boxers to their original stable. In 1983, Mark Breland, Tyrell Biggs (who defeated Lennox Lewis in the '84 Olympics) and Pernell Whitaker came to Kronk in preparation of their quest for Olympic gold medals. All three of them, plus Kronk's own Frank Tate and Stevie McCrory acquired gold medals at the 1984 Olympics.
From then on, the Kronk team continued to grow. Duke Durden, former Chairman of the Nevada State Boxing Commission and Vice-President of Don King Productions became the director of boxing for Kronk during the mid 80's and did a great job in securing fights for the entire team.
Now the hottest property in boxing, the Kronk Gym became the surrogate gym for many fighters. Fighters were flocking there to absorb some of the best training known to boxing. Hector Camacho, Sr., who was managed by Billy Giles of New York, trained primarily at Kronk for his first 13 fights.
On August 13th, 1983, Milton "Ice Man" McCrory reached the top of his game, defeating Welshman Colin Jones to become the WBC world welterweight champion. Then, on June 15th, 1984, Hearns knocked out Roberto Duran in two spectacular rounds and was named fighter of the year by boxing experts. The public now demanded a match between Hearns and fearsome middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Steward had been friendly with Hagler since 1973, and had great respect for Hagler as a fighter and as a person. Steward knew a Hearns-Hagler fight would be a superfight. On April 15th 1985, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Hearns and Hagler stood toe-to-toe for three brutal rounds until Hagler prevailed by knocking out Hearns in what is remembered as one of the most exciting fights ever. During the first round Hearns broke his right hand but didn't stop his assault. Hearns' sheer guts and determination in that fight seems to have been the epitome of all Kronk fighters, they never run from a fight and they never quit - that's something Emanuel instilled in Kronk fighters from an early age.
Although Hearns lost to Hagler, he had gained ultimate respect around the world for his gutsy performance. Kronk thrived throughout the mid-eighties with champions Duane Thomas Milton McCrory, Mike McCallum and Jimmy Paul, all dominating their weight divisions.
Cable TV giant, Showtime, made their debut into pro boxing by broadcasting some of the Kronk fighters - starting Steward's close friendships with Showtime boxing boss Jay Larkin and executive producer David Denkins Jr.
In addition, in 1986 Emanuel had the Kronk Fighters participate in the Metro Youth Day in Detroit. Serena Peaks coordinated this yearly event until her passing. In 2004 Emanuel appointed Rhonda Mithcell to pick up the torch, which is still flaming for the children of Detroit to this day.
On March 4th, 1987, Thomas Hearns knocked out Britain's Dennis Andries in ten rounds to win the WBC light heavyweight championship of the world - his third title in three different divisions. Distraught by the loss but impressed with Steward's managerial skills, Andries, in his late 30's, asked Steward to manage him and Steward agreed.
With Andries now a Kronk fighter, Steward and Hearns decided to vacate Hearns' newly won belt and move down in weight, giving Andries a chance to reclaim the championship. Andries moved to Detroit to begin training at the Kronk Gym.In October 1987, Hearns went down fifteen pounds and won his 4th title by knocking out middleweight Juan Roldan. At that point Hearns' place in history was solidified since he was the first person to win titles in 4 different weight divisions.
Andries won the light-heavyweight championship again by defeating Tony Willis in 1988, in a fight that was promoted by Emanuel's daughter, Sylvia. Andries later lost the championship to Jeff Harding of Australia and eventually defeated Harding in their rematch becoming a three time champion.
On September 22, 1987 Emanuel was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Detroit’s Kronk Gym Keeps Cranking Out The Best in Boxing”, written by Stephen Buckley.
In 1988 Steward met Richard H. Davimos a successful businessman who wanted to financially back Steward's new fighters. Steward agreed to let Davimos' son, John, co-manage these fighters. Together they signed a group of youngsters to professional contracts. The 'Class of '88' team included Leenozer Barber, Frankie Liles, Michael Bentt, Adam Garland, Gerald McClellan, Oba Carr, Jemal Hinton, Donald Stokes, Stanley Longstreet, Anthony Jones and Michael Moorer. Oba Carr became a household name at the age of 18 and Steward moved this group of youngsters at an amazing pace.
By December 1988, just nine months after turning pro, Michael Moorer defeated Ramzi Hassan and became a world champion. Shortly afterwards, Moorer graced the cover of Ring Magazine along with Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard. Steward had developed a power punching light heavyweight champion within a record breaking 9 months.
One of Emanuel's top assistant trainers at this time was a former featherweight pro named Luther Burgess. At one time Burgess fought Willie Pep, but during the 80's and 90's Burgess' fame came from his involvement with Kronk's champions.
During the 1988 WBA Convention, Pepe Cordero and certain members of the organization told Emanuel they'd like to break away from the governing body and form a new boxing organization, called the WBO (World Boxing Organization). They asked if Emanuel would help them in anyway he could. Steward agreed and personally financed the first WBO convention. Paperwork was completed within a week and with that, the WBO was born.
In November of 1988, Hearns fought in the first sanctioned WBO title fight against James "Heat" Kinchen as a super-middleweight. Hearns was knocked down in the fight but got up and outfought Kinchen in a gutsy battle. Kinchen took an abnormal amount of punishment but wouldn't go down. Hearns won the decision and his 5th world title. It was later revealed that Kinchen's pain tolerance had been enhanced with illegal substances.
At the recommendation of friend Don Turner, Emanuel took over as the manager of John David Jackson-- a young southpaw prospect. Turner assumed training duties with Jackson and Emanuel worked around the clock as a manager to get Jackson a title shot.
On Dec 8th 1988, Jackson defeated Lupe Aquino to win the WBO Super-Welterweight championship --adding another belt to the Kronk collection. Also helping Steward with the fighters at this time were trainers Tommy Brooks and Stacy McKinney (who both went on to work with Mike Tyson).
Going into the holiday season of 1988, the buzz in boxing focused on a Hearns-Leonard rematch. Leonard, had recently defeated world champion Donnie LaLonde in a comeback fight. Negotiations between both parties went on twenty-four seven, but nothing could be finalized. The deal was complex and involved some of boxing’s best businessmen but their personalities and egos clashed, nobody could close the deal.
Just days into 1989, Emanuel decided to contact Sugar Ray Leonard directly. Hours after hanging up the phone with Leonard, Steward arrived at Leonard's luxurious mansion in Maryland. Alone, the two of them hammered out a deal. Emanuel got Ray to sign-off on the contract that would cement a Hearns-Leonard rematch. The businessmen of boxing wondered how Emanuel closed this deal after all their efforts had fallen apart. Steward, a great negotiator, simply says common sense was the key to closing the deal but as Steward himself always said, "Common sense, isn't that common".
With both names on the contract, Steward now had to choose a promoter for the Hearns-Leonard II fight. He chose longtime friend Bob Arum, whose company Top Rank, Inc. immediately organized a nationwide press tour to announce the fight.
Hearns and Leonard fought each other for the second time on June 12th of 1989. At stake was the WBC super middleweight title, but more importantly a place in history for these two superstars. Dubbed the "War", this fight received worldwide attention and was broadcasted live around the world from Las Vegas, Nevada. Hearns dominated the fight knocking down Leonard twice and pumping a vicious jab that didn't allow Leonard to gain much momentum during the fight. Leonard lasted 12 rounds and when the result was announced as a draw, the crowd booed, knowing the man in Kronk trunks had won. Leonard has since openly admitted, Hearns was the better fighter that night.
For his efforts, Emanuel once again was named the 1989 Manager of the Year award from the prestigious Boxing Writers Association.Soon afterwards Hearns decided to leave Steward in search of what he considered a better manager. A deceitful Kronk employee was telling Thomas that he no longer needed Steward or Kronk. Hearns listened and told Emanuel he wanted to split and manage his own affairs.
During the early 90's, around the time that Hearns abandoned Kronk, most of Emanuel's fighters followed suit. Even though he had taken most of the fighters to world championship levels, the 'Class of '88' was being wrenched from Emanuel's control --one of Emanuel's most trusted trainers betrayed him by scheming to destroy Emanuel's Kronk empire. Soon afterwards Emanuel found himself with very few fighters.
During rough times, many of Emanuel's so-called friends departed. Amongst those that stayed, showing true friendship and support were Don H. Barden, Detroit's highly successful business entrepreneur and Perry Mandera, a Chicago based business mogul.
Emanuel began rebuilding the Kronk staff. Early in 1993, Ted Fields, who worked for Kronk, convinced Kevin Wynne, a young lawyer from Fields hometown of Washington, D.C. to work with Emanuel. Wynne did a great job as the sole legal counsel for Kronk and also handled all the legal matters when Emanuel bought a restaurant in downtown Detroit named 'Emanuel Steward's Place'. Kevin Wynne eventually relocated to New York City and became the vice president of sports for Madison Square Garden.
Kronk was still going through lots of changes, fighters were leaving but for those that remained onboard, Steward made sure they got the best deals. Gerald McClellan was one of the few that remained with Steward, even living at Steward's home for a period of time. Steward would even cook for Gerald, preparing special dishes in preparation for bouts. McClellan was a fearsome puncher, one that the incarcerated Mike Tyson, who was called 'the best fighter in the world'.
In May of 1993, Kronk's Gerald McClellan knocked out Julian Jackson to win the WBC middleweight championship. Steward and Gerald eventually split but their years together proved highly successful. Gerald was one of the most explosive punchers in middleweight history and continued to dominate the middleweights until he was tragically injured during a fight with Nigel Benn in 1995.
HOLYFIELD SEEKS STEWARD'S HELP
Although most of his fighters had now departed, Steward's expertise was recognized worldwide and outsiders begun seeking his skills. In 1993, rapper turned boxing advisor M.C. Hammer, contacted Emanuel and asked if he would help Evander Holyfield regain his championship. After a brief meeting, Steward agreed to accept the challenge. Holyfield was set to face Riddick Bowe in a rematch. In their first fight a year earlier, Bowe had defeated Holyfield to win the Heavyweight championship of the world. Steward knew Bowe had a better jab than Holyfield. Bowe was also bigger and stronger and could fight better on the inside. Bowe also had Hall of Fame trainer Eddie Futch in his corner developing his strategy. Holyfield and Steward were underdogs and the odds were against a victory for them.
Steward studied hours and hours of Bowe films until he devised a game plan that would ensure Holyfield's victory. Steward, like Holyfield, enjoyed dancing. During a night out after the two returned from the dance floor, Steward told Holyfield, “that rhythm was the key to victory against Bowe”.
Training for the Bowe rematch wasn't conventional, in fact Steward made Holyfield box only 36 rounds in preparation, an unusually low amount. Steward spent hours and hours working intensely on footwork and technique. Together the two moved around the ring creating every possible scenario. The training camp was physically draining for Steward, but he knew the hard work would pay off.
HEARNS RETURNS IN STYLE
During the Holyfield training camp, Hearns contacted Emanuel and asked if Emanuel would manage him again. Emanuel said yes and the two patched things up. Steward worked to get Thomas on the undercard of Holyfield-Bowe II. He agreed for Hearns to face former Olympic gold medalist Andrew Maynard. Due to Hearns' inactivity and age, Maynard was expected to win.
On November 6th, 1993, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the Steward-Hearns connection once again sent a shockwave through-out the boxing world when Hearns knocked Maynard out in the first round. Later that night, Steward helped Holyfield regain the championship he had lost. Holyfield moved around the ring with superb rhythm, nullifying Bowe's strengths and following Stewards plan with precision. Steward, once again, was the most revered manager/trainer in boxing.
In 1994 Emanuel had to leave training camp to attend his daughter’s Graduation. Sylvette matriculated with honors, earning her MFA from Columbia University. She had previously graduated Summa Laude with a BFA from New York University in 1991.
Emanuel left Evander after a salary dispute with Holyfield’s management team. Soon thereafter, Don King approached Emanuel to see if he would train former champion Julio Cesar Chavez, who had a fight coming up against the man who dethroned him, Frankie Randall. Steward agreed to train Chavez, orchestrating a masterful game plan. On May 7th 1994, Chavez defeated Randall to regain his championship. Once again Emanuel's magic had prevailed.
In 1994 Don King had secured a title fight for his heavyweight contender Oliver McCall. King had negotiated a deal in which McCall would face champion Lennox Lewis. King realized that under the guidance of Steward, McCall, like Chavez and Holyfield, would benefit from the hired gun skills that Steward possessed. Emanuel accepted the challenge and soon began training McCall for the title shot .
McCall moved to Detroit where Emanuel spent many hours with Oliver, building up his skill and confidence. Oliver really enjoyed his time in Detroit, training at the Kronk gym during the day and singing at Emanuel's nightclub at night. The two had a good chemistry and Steward brought the best out of McCall. They went into the fight as heavy underdogs, but shocked the world with a stunning second round knockout of Lewis, right in Lewis' backyard of London, England.
LENNOX LEWIS YEARS
Following the upset, Lennox restructured his team and asked Emanuel to take over as co-manager/head trainer. Emanuel had first met Lennox during the 1984 Olympic Games and the two almost joined forces in 1989 when Lennox turned pro. Emanuel liked Lennox as a person and agreed to train him. Steward then resigned as trainer of Oliver McCall, who held the heavyweight title at the time.
Steward decided to give his full attention to Lennox, vowing to help him regain the championship, as a result Emanuel closed his popular nightclub/restaurant 'Emanuel Steward's Place' on the river front in Downtown Detroit. In May of 1995, Lewis had his first fight under Steward's guidance; knocking out Lionel Butler in the fifth round.
Over the next two years Steward transformed Lewis into a complete fighter and on February 7th, 1997, Lewis faced Oliver McCall in a rematch. Lewis punished McCall over five rounds; forcing McCall to quit. Lewis had regained the WBC heavyweight title.
By this time, Steward's popularity had reached the pinnacle. He had won almost every possible award in the industry and had been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996. He was being approached by many top names in boxing, all wanting to benefit from his expertise.
STEWARD BECOMES BOXINGS 'HIRED GUN'
In 1997, Emanuel agreed to take over as Oscar de la Hoya's head trainer. Sport Illustrated magazine ran an article about Steward and his involvement with De la Hoya titled 'Mr. Fix It'. Steward helped Oscar defeat David Kamau and Hector Comacho Sr. Although Emanuel and Oscar got along well, the two parted after Steward disagreed with some of Oscar's advisors about the training techniques.
Over the next year, Steward focused mainly on Lennox Lewis but also took the time to open a Kronk Gym in Big Bear, California. It was at this gym where Lewis would train for some of his title defenses. Also utilizing the gym was Sugar Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas, Roberto Garcia, Johnny Tapia, Shannon Briggs and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
In 1999, Emanuel divided his time between two of boxings biggest superstars. He began to train 'Prince' Naseem Hamed in addition to continuing his relationship with Lennox Lewis.
On March 13th, 1999, Lennox fought a former Emanuel trained fighter by the name of Evander Holyfield. Lennox dominated the action, but much to the crowds dismay, the judges ruled the fight a draw. The highly controversial decision started a federal investigation that scrutinized the sport of boxing.
PRINCE NASEEM HAMED
On April 10th, 1999, Steward was in England with Thomas Hearns, who was fighting for his first time there as a professional. Day's before the fight Steward was asked by 'Prince' Naseem Hamed if he'd work Hamed's corner during his title defense against Paul Ingle. Hamed knew that having Steward involved would be a great publicity stunt. Steward was brought in mainly for publicity reasons, but Hamed was losing the fight during the later rounds when he was instructed by Emanuel to throw a straight left. Naseem followed Emanuel's instructions and he knocked out Ingle in the 10th round to retain his featherweight crown. With this began a two year relationship between Steward and Hamed. Also that night, Kronk's Thomas Hearns, who was forty at the time, made history by defeating Nate Miller for the IBO cruiserweight title, which was his seventh title in as many weight divisions.
Although Steward was now involved with two of the biggest names in the game and was working around the clock, he took time to create another Kronk Gym in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland Kronk was primarily used by kids; kids that within two years would dominate the national amateur scene. In November, 1999, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield met up once again to determine who would be the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world. Lennox dominated Evander over twelve rounds winning the title. This was a great victory not only for Lennox but also for Emanuel.
In the year 2000, Emanuel maintained continuous achievement. Lennox successfully defended his title four times that year. The Kronk amateur team was blossoming rapidly. Many of the amateur stars had skills so developed that some of them were used by professional champions as sparring partners, even though they were only in their teens.
2001 brought some surprises for Kronk. Steward's involvement with Hamed had become stressed. Team Hamed didn't listen to Emanuel or follow his advice, which caused severe strain in their relationship. During the training camp, Steward decided that win or lose he would walk away from Hamed after the Barrera fight. In early April, Hamed lost to Barrera and Emanuel walked away. Hamed didn't fight again in 2001. Although the two parted ways, Steward still believes that Hamed is one of the most naturally gifted boxers to ever fight and that with the correct training could have gone down in history as one of the greatest featherweights ever.
It was on April 21, 2001, when things took a turn. Lennox Lewis was the victim of a one-punch knockout at the hands of Hasim Rahman. Steward for the first time in years found himself without a professional world champion. KO Magazine published a headline that read “Has the Kronk wizard lost his magic?” Critics voiced strong opinions but immediately, Emanuel started on the road to recovery. A rematch between Lewis and Rahman was set for November 17th. Steward and Lewis went back to their Pocono Mountain training camp in Pennsylvania and worked for eight long weeks on a strategy that would take them back to the top.
Steward knew that in order to regain the respect of the general public, Lewis must not only win but needed to defeat his adversary in spectacular fashion. During the fourth round of the fight, Lewis unleashed a lethal right hand punch on the jaw of Rahman--knocking him out cold. With Rahman lying on the ring canvas, Emanuel and Lennox had silenced their critics who were saying that their best days were over. Steward was named 2001 trainer of the year by the WBA organization and Lennox was once again recognized as the best heavyweight in the world. A super-fight against Mike Tyson was now on the horizon.
After the infamous press conference in which Mike Tyson bit the leg of Lennox Lewis, the super-fight was set for June 8th, 2002. Emanuel had put in place a multi-million dollar deal that would bring the fight to Detroit, but politics became involved and the fight was slated to take place in the 20,000 seat Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee.
Again Steward and Lewis trained in the magnificent camp in the Pocono's. Steward had known Tyson for twenty years and knew exactly what strategy to use. Steward made Lewis back Tyson up and be aggressive --something many fighters were scared to do against Tyson. By the third round Lewis was dominating Tyson. He was physically punishing him. By the eighth round Lewis had knocked Tyson out and fortifieded his legacy.
Emanuel Steward had trained and/or managed over 40 world-champion boxers. This was unheard of in the boxing world. He is one of the most respected individuals in the boxing industry. During the '90's he was hired by many of the top boxers to either revive their careers or to improve their chances in super-fights. As a result, Emanuel was known as boxing's Hired Gun, or as Sports Illustrated called him "Mr. Fix It".
Emanuel's talent as a trainer and manager, he felt, was a gift from God. Emanuel's boxing schedule usually consists of 14-hour workdays. His hobbies were fishing, basketball, slow pitch softball, card playing, dancing, computing, cooking (usually for his fighters) and shooting pool.
THE ORIGINAL KRONK GYM
The Kronk boxers always preferred to train in the hot basement of the Kronk Recreation Center in Detroit. They felt that the heated, low oxygen surroundings help with weight control, increase stamina and minimizes injuries. It has been said that the basement gym had a magical aura about it. Very few fighters have lost when trained at the original gym.
Like any successful corporation, the Kronk Boxing Team had to seek the help of qualified people to support and hekp manage the business. The people involved in Kronk were a very diverse and talented group of professionals. Vice President Richard T. Slone oversaw the majority of all activities and had been involved with Kronk for over a decade. Kronk's Director of Business Affairs was Scott Eisner. Lannie Perry, Emanuel's long time assistant, supervised the day-to-day activities at the Kronk offices and Serena Peaks handled Emanuel's book keeping duties. Magne Stange, Prince Poku-Osei, Kojo Amoafo and former female boxing champion Helga Risoy of Norway handled most of Kronk's foreign activities.
Emanuel Steward is considered by many to be boxing’s most acclaimed manager/trainer. He has experienced every aspect of the game. From being the National Golden Gloves Champion to managing and training over 40 world champions. He is internationally known as having handled prominent world champions from countries such as Australia, Great Britain, United States, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands.
Well-spoken and articulate, Emanuel began moonlighting as an 'expert commentator' with TV networks such as Showtime, TVKO and other Pay-Per-View networks. His views and opinions are highly respected and regarded as paramount in the sport.
In 2001, Emanuel signed a deal with HBO Sports and was added as a regular member of the distinguished HBO broadcast team, which included legendary broadcasters Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley. Steward's longtime friend Ross Greenburg, President of HBO Sports, was largely responsible for bringing Steward onboard.
Steward enjoyed his HBO broadcasting position, and has been recognized by numerous TV critics for his outstanding performances onscreen. Steward, who took the mic without any formal training, said that he just remembered to be himself on camera and believed his fifty plus years of involvement in boxing served him well whilst on TV. Steward also adds that his broadcasts are mostly live and there is no margin for error. Working under pressure is something that makes Steward thrive.
In January of 2001, Emanuel was hired by actor Wesley Snipes to teach him boxing techniques for his role in the movie “Undisputed”. Emanuel was so impressed with Snipes “natural talent” that he felt if Snipes had been a boxer he would most certainly have been a world champion.
Throughout the years, Hollywood has taken a liking to Steward and Kronk. In addition to Emanuel’s credits on Quentin Tarantino's “Pulp Fiction”, the two can be seen making cameo's in quite a few movies including “Out of Sight” starring Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney as well as “Oceans 11” starring Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and George Clooney.
As a result of his influence in the boxing field, fighters approached Steward by the hundreds to be either managed or trained by him. Emanuel chose his fighters very carefully. Very few made the cut. In November 2001, he took over the managerial duties of women's world champion boxer Lucia Rijker whom he felt is one of the most naturally gifted athletes ever.
In February 2002, the USA Boxing organization asked Emanuel to assume the duties as their director of coaching for the United States National amateur boxing team. Steward was appointed overseer of all training for the US team and lead the US into the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
In addition to the KRONK gym built in Detroit in 2002, the latest KRONK gym’s established were Kronk Ireland and Kronk UK.
In 2004 Klitschko acquired Emanuel Steward as his new coach. Emanuel remained Klitschko’s coach until his death. Wladimir Klitschko was truly a faithful boxer, whom Emanuel truly loved. In fact, Wladimir was one of the last people to talk to Emanuel. Additionally in 2005, Emanuel also helped his daughter promote Kronk fights under the company Second Round Inc., at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
TIMELINE OF ADDITIONAL SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
2006 Kronk at the Fisher Building. Andy lee debut professional fighter at Joe Louis Arena March 10th
2007 The Ultimate Night of Kronk Compuware
2008 Kronk at the Palace of Auburn Hills
2009 Mickey Goodwin one of Kronk’s original fighters died March 3, 2009. Mickey’s first professional fight was November 11, 1977 and his last November 29, 1994. Mickey had forty-three wins and only 2 losses.
Emanuel Steward met Andy Lee in Belfast during a speaking tour and soon after, Andy Lee joined the Kronk Boxing Team. The Steward family will always be grateful for Andy during Emanuel’s last days, he flew to the United States to be with Emanuel at Beaumont Hospital. While Emanuel’s wife Marie and his sister were setting up transportation for Emanuel to leave Michigan to go to the Chicago, officials at Beaumont informed them that they had a private jet ready for Emanuel to head to Chicago ASAP. Andy was the only one that arrived in time to fly with Emanuel, as his wife Marie was away from the hospital obtaining information for Beaumont. Andy got on the plane with Emanuel and they arrived at the Cancer Center of America where Doctor Brown took care of him.
THE LAST DAYS
Perry Madera helped provide everything that was needed to make Emanuel comfortable; he was a true friend. God has placed special people in Emanuel’s life and Perry was one of them. Perry was not a man who said “if there is anything I can do for Emanuel”, he was and is a man that just does it and makes things possible. Perry made sure Emanuel’s family was provided for while they were in Chicago and made sure Emanuel had the best in Michigan and in Illinois in his last days. Marie, Sylvia, Sylvette, Diane, Lavern , Javan and Roderick Williams Sr. will always be grateful for the kindness and compassion Perry had for Emanuel.
The family would also like to extend a word of thanks to Dr. Brown, as he remained at Emanuel’s side with his wife Marie, sister Diane and daughter Sylvia as he took his last breath.
Chapel Joe from the Cancer Center of America always visited Emanuel, and was truly dedicated to lending his support. The family was saddened to learned that Chapel had passed a way soon thereafter from cancer as well.
To Mike Turner, the family could never say thank you enough. This is a man who had a trip to Hawaii, stayed in Detroit to help Marie with arrangements and is still to this day helping Emanuel’s family.
The family also wants to thank Wladimir Klitschko, whose loyalty brought great joy to Emanuel’s life, even when he was very ill in the hospital. Kronk Boxer Johnathon Bank’s went on to coach the Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Emanuel has made Kronk an International name and when people think of Kronk, they think of Detroit and Emanuel.
Detroit is still known as the Headquarters of Kronk and will rise back up with the city.
A MESSAGE FROM SYLVIA STEWARD-WILLIAMS
Please be patient as I Sylvia Steward-Williams restructure Kronk. During the first year of my fathers passing my family was still mourning our loss. I understand why my Aunt closed the gym and it was not as the press stated. After my father’s passing, there were break-ins in the gym and a lot of theft. No one was in charge because my father had passed away. As with any business, you must have a solid structure in place and in my case, I had to restructure the Kronk gym while leaving the legacy in-tact. Emanuel had made Kronk an international name, which originated in Detroit. The Steward family has been asked to have KRONK up and running as Detroit rebuilds itself under it’s new Mayor, and that will happen soon. We do not support the Kronk Gym Foundation since Emanuel Steward has passed and 4 board members that truly loved Emanuel have also resigned. In the last five years Emanuel was living, our family has seen people come in Emanuel’s life that stated they cared for him, but their actions proved they did not have his best interest at heart. All they wanted was the Kronk name. Please be aware that there is someone behaving as though they have the rights by using the Kronk name and building themselves up in the media but they do not have the Trademark name.
I have had many people come to me offering to open up KRONK gym in different states, but Detroit must be first with the right people in place. We now have someone trying to open a Kronk Gym, that has no rights to the name and no concerns for Emanuel’s family. Second Round, Inc. owns the rights to the Kronk clothing line and providing gymnasiums, fitness and boxing training, and competition facilities etc. in the field of boxing. Sylvia Steward-Williams owns Second Round, Inc. My concerns are with my Family, Detroit, the youth and of course God before all. My family always had compassion for people. My father and mother sacrificed the little money they had in the 60’s and 70’s to take the young fighters to tournaments, while I sold Kronk products in the earily 80’s. My sister Sylvette Steward has dedicated her time and money traveling in and outside of the US to teach kids English.
Most people have approach me saying we must re-open the gym with no plans. One of the main reasons the gym survived was because my father placed his money into the gym to keep it running for the kids. I have seen my father and mother pour their heart into the youth in Detroit, when they had very little money to give. Since my father passed, I have heard people from the past and the last couple of years saying that they built Kronk. Kronk gym was formed when my father and mother unselfishly gave their time, to pour into the young boys in Detroit in the late 60’s and my father started to create Amateurs champions representing Detroit.
It is my job to protect Kronk, by finding the right people who will keep the Detroit Kronk Boxing Team legacy in Detroit first and protect what my father has built. I have had many battles protecting the Kronk name since I started selling the Kronk products as a teenager under Sylvann Enterprises in the 80’s and Second Round Inc. in the 90’s.
My father’s heart was always with the amateurs. He wanted a gym for the Kids first and a gym for people who simply wanted to have fitness training under the Kronk name.The Kronk legacy will continue to thrive as Detroit continues to thrive.
Emanuel has managed/trained more champions than anyone in the history of boxing, and has been noted in newspapers all over the World. Below is a list of the world champions that Steward has handled.
Kronk's Champions (trained by Emanuel Steward)
Dennis Andries, Thomas Hearns, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Leeonzer Barber, Evander Holyfield, Welcome N'cita, Jesse Benevides, John David Jackson, Jimmy Paul, Mark Breland, Hilmer Kenty, Aaron Pryor,Gaby Canizales,Lennox Lewis,Lucia Rijker,Julio Cesar Chavez, Oliver McCall, Graciano Rocchigiani,Oscar De La Hoya, Mike McCallum, Leon Spinks
Jeff Fenech, Gerald McClellan, Duane Thomas, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, Milton McCrory,Tony Tucker,Naseem Hamed, Michael Moorer, Johnathon Banks,Andy Lee
Professional fighters that have trained at Kronk
Henry Akinwande,Adam Garland,Roy McMillian, Laila Ali, Wilfred Gentzen,Paul McPeek,Muhammad Ali (1975, Kenny Gould, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Alexis Arguello,,Ali Haakim, Leroy Murphy,Davey Lee Armstron,Bernard Harris,Todd Nadon,
Paulie Ayala, Maurice Harris, Danell Nicholson,Leeonzer Barber Jr., Billy Hearns, Michael Nunn, Leeonzer Barber Sr., John Hearns, Vince Phillips,Jackie Beard, Carlos Hernandez, Eddie Rangel, Wilfredo Benitez, Jemal Hinton & Javan Hill, Todd Riggs, Michael Bentt, Lindell Holmes,Pepe Riley,Trevor Berbick,Courtney Hooper,Rick Roufus, Tyrell Biggs, Cassius Clay Horne, Jesus Ruiz, Cedric Boswell, J.L. Ivey, Keitoku Senrima,Donald Bowers, Derrick Jefferson,Omar Shieka, David Braxton, Tom Johnson, Hurley Snead, Mark Breland, Anthony Jones, Kenny Snow, Shannon Briggs, Charley Jordan, Ravea Springs, Scotty Buck, Pierre Karam, Donald Stokes, Hector Camacho, Ka-Dy King, Andy Straughn, Oba Carr, Ole Klemetsen, Brett Summers, Adrian Carreon, Darnell Knox, Jeff Thompson,Spencer Chavis, Antwon Leach, Mike Tinley, Errol Christie, Caveman Lee,James Toney, Michael Clark, Don Lee, Tyrone Trice, Derrell Coley, Keith Lee, Rodney Allen Trusel, Jason Crutchfield, Frankie Liles,Pee Wee Rucker,Dwight Davison, Rune Lillebuen,Kenneth Whack, Johnny de la Rosa, Stanley Longstreet, Kevin Whaley -El, Mike Dover, Anthony Lopez,Pernell Whittaker,
Lanny Edmonds, Egerton Marcus, Bruce Williams,Mamoud Fadel, Garry Martin,Fabian Williams,Floyd Favors, Roger Mayweather,Frank Williams,Taurrek Fikes,Floyd Mayweather, Sr.,Jeremy Williams, George Foreman, Oliver McCall, Lance Williams, Tony Fulilangi, Damon McCreary, Greg Wright,
Boyd Gardner, Jr. Bronco McKart, Mark Rowe,Evander Holyfeild, Vitali Klitschko, Wladmir Klitschko, Dennis Andries, Migel Cotto, Kermit Cintron,
Jermine Taylor,Oscar De la Hoya, Lennox Lewis
Message from the editors:
We hope you've enjoyed this story about Kronk and Emanuel Steward. This is simply a version stating facts and accomplishments of Kronk. More information can be obtained by visiting the official Kronk website
Author: Richard T. Slone- - -
Co-writers: Sylvette Steward, Scott Eisner, updated by: Janae Freeman Stacks
2012-10-27 Emanuel Steward HBO Tribute