The story of fire destroying the old Kronk Gym is a good one except it is not true. The city of Detroit placed Kronk on its death bed, not an arsonist as news outlets are reporting.
The Free Press ran a heart warming photo of boxing great Tommy Hearns looking over the remains of his beloved gym. It will be recorded that the fire devastated the place. But that let’s the city of Detroit off the hook. Detroit killed Kronk, not the fire.
I don’t know if the Hit Man shed a tear when he saw his old gym, but I want him to know that he would have shed the same tears a month ago when I visited the site. Kronk was down for the count then because the city did not take care of the place. I did a tour of former sporting land marks to see what they looked today. And it was troubling.
Rats and opossums played on the rail road tracks behind the shuttered Southwestern High School gym where Perry Watson won championships as a coach and Jalen Rose played some of the most spectacular basketball this city has ever seen.
Then I drove to Kronk and the place looked so bad that no amount of rehabilitation could restore the place. And finally I went over to Mackenzie High School where I used to see Jerome Bettis put a whipping on unsuspecting high school boys before he became The Bus at Notre Dame and later with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I could not find the high school because was torn down five years ago.
The story of fire destroying Kronk is a good one, but it is not true. Kronk may have been destroyed more than a decade ago when boxing legend Emanuel Steward told me he wanted to revive Kronk in Dearborn, Westland or some place near downtown. Perhaps he knew then that the old relict could not be revived, especially after funding for many of Detroit’s rec centers was cut off, leaving them vacant and unattended to.
The place looked like it had already been set on fire a month ago. I for the life of me cannot figure out why someone would set the place in flames. That seems like a waste of time and a good can of gasoline.