Kronk Gym is actually a part of Kronk Community Center. Kronk Community Center was built in 1921 at 5555 McGraw Street, at the corner of Junction Street, on Detroit’s southwest side. Kronk Gym and Community Center are named after John Kronk, who was a Detroit City Councilman in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Kronk Community Center was Detroit’s oldest recreation center. It was a two-story, modern, brick structure that had a gymnasium, swimming pool, auditorium, a lobby, and a couple of offices on the first floor. The second floor was all classrooms. In the basement, is where the “magic” happened, as that is where Kronk Gym was located. Kronk Gym was actually quite simple in design and layout. There was two heavy-bags, two speed-bags, some exercise equipment, a locker room, and the boxing rink. Some of the most famous boxers in the world came right out of this basement, known as Kronk Gym.
Legendary boxer and trainer, Emanuel Steward, spent over three decades at Kronk Gym and would go on to produce 50 different amateur boxing champions, 30 different world champions, and even 3 Olympic gold-medals. Most noted fighter to come out of Kronk Gym was, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, who would end up winning five titles in five different weight classes, an achievement that has never been done before, or since. Kronk Gym produced many legendary fighters throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and into the 2000’s.
In 2006, some metal thieves (scrappers) broke into the Kronk Community Center and stole the copper piping. This cut off the water and heat into the community center and it forced Emanuel Steward to move Kronk Gym to a Gold’s Gym in nearby Dearborn, Michigan. The move was supposed to be temporary, but the City of Detroit was already threatening to close Kronk Community Center because it was getting to old and expensive to keep running. The theft of the pipes was the “nail in the coffin” that finally closed Kronk Community Center for good. Kronk Community Center closed for good in September of 2006.
The good news is that Krong Gym did not close. Emanuel Steward ended up raising money, built a new gym in a storefront on nearby West Warren Avenue and opened another gym on West Chicago. Unfortunately, Emanuel Steward passed away in 2012. Kronk Gym is still in operation and Emanuel Steward’s name lives on in the boxers that train at Kronk Gym.
As of 2015, Kronk Community Center is abandoned. There are no plans for redevelopment, renovation, or demolition. The building has been heavily scrapped and badly damaged.
Kronk Gym & Community Center in 2010: