The name of the Kronk Gym, Detroit is synonymous with the world of boxing and this summer young boxers from the North West will travel to America in June to train and fight in this pugilistic mecca.
Run out of the basement of a recreation center, Kronk Gym became a household name in the sport of boxing. It produced 50 amateur champions, more than 30 world champions, the most recent being Wladimir Klitschko, and three Olympic gold medalists.
Trained under the expert eye of the late, great Emanuel Stewart, multiple world champions like Jimmy Paul, Sugar Ray Leonard, Naseem Hamed, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis honed their skills under the guidance of this boxing legend.
The man behind this ‘once in a lifetime’ trip for young local boxers is Alan ‘Spike’ Martin from Scorpion Boxing Club, Ballymoney and he explained how the link up with this world famous gym came about.
“I was in America at Christmas time when a friend AlLowe from Detroit got in touch with interntional referee Brendan Lowe who works with me on the Belfast Beltway Boxing project. He said there were a few club’s in Detroit interested in bringing kids over from Ireland. Brendan was staying with friends in Canada at the time and so we arranged to meet up and travel to Detroit.
“A promoter called Tracy Gillingham was very keen to have a team brought over to compete against different clubs from the Detroit Metro area so we met him and travelled to three gyms.
“We were taken to the Kronk Gym and there we met Jonathan Banks who trains Klitschko. We also met a few of the older coaches there too. We spent a few hours there, listening to all the stories about when Tommy Hearns fought Marvin Hagler and when he fought Roberto Duran and it’s kind of surreal being there in a place which has such a wealth of history. It was pretty much an real old school gym.
“When we left the Kronk Gym we went to Jimmy Paul’s Gym. Jimmy Paul boxed out of Kronk and was IBF World Lightweight Champion but he has now his own gym and again it was a rough and ready gym but it was really busy with pros and amateur boxers training side by side. They are very interested in organising a show this summer too.
“We are hoping to take a team of 15 over from the North West. I’m very keen to give boxers from the local area the opportunity to have an amazing experience like this. Young boxers from this area haven’t really had the chance to go to America, its always been restricted to Belfast. How can you give kids the chance of international experience if they arent getting picked and I’m very keen to give our youngsters the chance. It’s not just about taking the best boxers, its about giving kids of all levels the opportunity and that’s how they learn.
“We are getting the logistics put in place at the moment but it’s all looking good for June.”