Emanuel Steward’s got a right to sing the blues

Emanuel Steward is suffering. He sat down on the couch, hunched over and covered his face with his hands the same hands that made him an amateur champion as a young man and later helped him tutor some of the greatest fighters who ever stepped in the ring,’ reports the AP.

“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet,” he said. “I don’t know.”

The Kronk, located in inner city Detroit, has been Steward’s home away from home for as long as anyone can remember, and is the dingy, overheated basement gym that has produced world champions like Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Lennox Lewis.’

It is also a world-famous institution that is about to close and has the 62-year-old hall of fame trainer in a quandary.

Detroit, aka Motown, aka the Motor City, is suffering from the same manner of downsizing that most other major American cities are suffering these days, where what gets downsized most are the very things that need to get downsized least, namely the support systems that helps those least able to help themselves get on with their lives.

In keeping with those skewed political/financial/racial priorities, Detroit shut down the recreation center that houses Kronk because of a major budget shortfall, which left Steward no choice but to reach into his own pocket to keep the gym up and running during the last eight months.

The city gave Steward the go-ahead to keep the gym open, under the condition that he continues to run it and submits a monthly fee to cover utilities.

But all that changed last weekend. Police say thieves broke into the building and made off with the copper pipes in the basement boiler room, cutting off the gym’s water supply. The value of copper has skyrocketed in recent years and is now one of the more fence-able hot metals on the market.

Steward checked with some plumbing specialists this week and was given the bad news that it will cost $20,000 to $40,000 to fix the damage to the gym, to which Steward replied, somewhat disingenuously, “I don’t have that kind of money.”

Manny has to either pony up the bucks to get things back up to scratch or start soliciting donations, otherwise he’ll have no choice but to open a new Kronk somewhere else, maybe somewhere a little less subject to crime, poverty, and indifference.

“What’s going to stop them from breaking in again? asked Steward, weighing and balancing his options aloud. That’s my biggest concern.”

It looks like the future of Kronk, much like the futures of Motown and boxing, appears to be in jeopardy.