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Coach tries to save gym where Leonard trained

12/22/2005 - Boxing

DETROIT -- Boxing coach Emanuel Steward announced a benefit fight night to raise money to save the Kronk Recreation Center, where he has trained generations of champions in a dingy basement gym.

Steward -- whose champions include Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis,
Oscar de La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and Hilmer Kenty -- is trying to
raise enough money to keep the Kronk from closing. The center in
southwest Detroit is one of nine that the cash-strapped city has
slated for closure.

Last week, Steward and Kenty met with the city's recreation
director and agreed to work out a deal for Steward's foundation to
take over the Kronk. Now Steward is trying to raise the money to do
it.

The benefit, Fight Night at the Fisher, is planned for Feb. 2,
three days before Detroit hosts the Super Bowl. The event,
featuring professional and amateur fights in the lobby of the
opulent Fisher Building, will be headlined by heavyweight Jonathon
Banks, of Detroit, who will take on Michael Word, of Milwaukee.

Steward, who started coaching in the Kronk's boxing program in
1971, said saving the center where Sugar Ray Leonard trained before
winning the gold at the 1976 Olympics was a matter of pride for
Detroit.

"It's the most famous recreation center in the world," he said
in a telephone interview Wednesday. "You think of Kronk, you think
of Detroit."

Steward said he is awaiting numbers from the city to calculate the exact cost of operating the Kronk and to determine whether it makes sense to renovate the aging structure or tear it down and rebuild elsewhere in Detroit.

Tickets for the fundraiser range from $500 to $2,500. The evening also includes a live auction featuring Kronk memorabilia.