Leland Stein III

Posts Tagged ‘Emanuel Steward’

Banks holding down Kronk boxing lore

In sports column on February 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

By Leland Stein III

Leland Stein III

Leland Stein IIIBy Leland Stein II

The Motor City boxing scene has been on the international map for many, many years. Starting with the Brewster Center and legends Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Emanuel Steward.

Later Steward lorded over the most famous boxing club in the world, Kronk. Out of that mix came Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty and the McCory brothers, just to mention a very few.

Now on February 17th on live HBO Boxing, Detroit’s own Johnathon Banks, will be seeking to keep the magical Motown fisticuffs front and center in the international boxing discourse.

“We may not have a Kronk boxing facility since Emanuel’s passing,” Banks said, “but this February people will see the spirit of Kronk is still alive and making history.”

Banks works the speed bag. – Dan Graschuck photo

Banks works the speed bag. – Dan Graschuck photo

Banks, pepped at Detroit Western International Academy, graduating in 2000. With his size and obvious athletic ability, he could have played any sport in high school, but boxing was always in his blood.

“When I went down to the Brewster Center at a very young age,” Banks said, “and learned the history that had been made there, I was a fan of boxing forever. I started boxing as a kid and never wanted to do anything else. I did run cross country at Western, but that helped me with my boxing conditioning.”

Banks again proves that when a person has a true vision for themselves, he or she generally put everything into that dream and in most cases are better directed and focused at a young age.

“As I kept training, I finally met Emanuel, and he turned my life around in this business,” Banks exclaimed. “After Emanuel became my trainer, he started taking me to fighter camps like (Lennox) Lewis’, and, he hooked me up with Wladimir (Klitschko) whom I took over as his trainer following Emanuel’s death.”

The fact of the matter is in less than a month after Emanuel’s death, on Nov. 12th in Hamburg, Germany, Banks was in world champion Klitschko’s corner as head trainer.

Next Banks (31-1-1) claimed into the ring to contest undefeated Seth Mitchell, a former linebacker at Michigan State University, on November 17, 2012 in Atlantic City. He shocked the boxing world producing a second-round knockout over highly regarded Mitchell.

With that title Banks is now currently W.B.C International and N.A.B.O Heavyweight Champion. He has the unique distinction of being the only boxer in history to train the reigning World Heavyweight Champion to a successful title defense, and a week later compete for his own heavyweight title and win in stunning knockout fashion.

Concerning the double duty as a heavyweight champion and world-class trainer, Banks feels he is a natural for it

“I was taught by Emanuel and some other great coaches,” Banks relayed. “I have the ability to teach and being a good trainer is a job of teaching. A person could be a great or average fighter, but none of that will automatically transfer to a person being a great trainer.

“I think what Wladimir saw in me was that I was always looking at him to explore his best and natural assets. While some trainers try to make a fighter fit into their style, I try to fit into the fighter’s style. I’ve always been eager to help guys out and help them reach their full potential. Inside and outside the ring I try to live like that.”

Banks has always had the magic touch when it came to boxing, and, he said that is what Emanuel saw and helped bring out in him. Prior to turning pro, Banks enjoyed a great amateur career that saw him become a three-time National Amateur Champion at 178 lbs.

He went on to become IBO Cruiserweight Champion and now the heavyweight crown. Now in mid-February Banks says he ready to show the world that win was the real deal and to keep the memory of Kronk alive.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

International gathering sends Emanuel Steward Home

In sports column on November 18, 2012 at 3:13 am

International gathering sends Emanuel Steward Home

Emanuel Steward and Leland Stein III at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Final bell rung for Detroit icon.

By Leland Stein III

Well, no more dog walks together or eating that great barbeque. The final 10-count bell has been rung at Greater Grace and my friend, and more importantly, a friend to thousands has been laid to rest.

Emanuel Steward a certified Detroit and international icon has gone home. The humble founder of Detroit Kronk Boxing Team, an HBO Boxing commentator and Hall of Fame trainer, probably would have blushed if he could have seen the spectacular celebration given to him by the multitudes of pugilist, media peers and admirers.

Men and women from all over the world found their way to Detroit to honor a man that only wanted to help others, the only way he knew how. Get them in the gym and in the process sneak some life lessons to them that more times than not stuck.

I understood the depth and breadth of Steward’s impact in the Sweet Science, but I was even surprised to see the overwhelming inclusion of individuals that he has cajoled

Aretha Franklin.

In all our dog walks and general conversations he never bragged about the company he kept and experienced.

He just would have been happy to know that Mayor Dave Bing, Aretha Franklin, Judge Mathis, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, Bob Arum and Jim Lampley were there to celebrate his noteworthy life.

But he would have been impressed with the pugilist that came to acknowledge how he turned good athletes into champions.

Some of those champions in attendance were Sugar Ray Leonard, Hilmer Kenty, Milton McCrory, Lennox Lewis, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, Thomas Hearns, Michael Moorer, Evander Holyfield, Iran Barkley, Jimmy Paul and Roy Jones, just to name a few, were all there and spoke of the legendary memories that Steward has left us all with.

Champions Lennox Lewis and Thomas Hearns.

Frank.lin, the Queen of Soul, stood in the church pew and blasted out a special ad-lib song that was generated just for Steward.

“Emanuel flew away,” Franklin sang, as she started to improvise and the applause grew and tears started to well in my eyes. “Emanuel Steward was a good man! Yes, he was. He was a champion . . . Oh, yes, he was. You have to be, you’ve got to be, a champion to train one . . . Oh, yes, you do.”

Representing Steward’s HBO family was Lampley. He talked about their special bond. “I can truly say that Emanuel was my best friend,” he exclaimed, “but I’m sure all of you here and many more across the world can say the same thing. If there was any man that lived up the Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s dictum it was Emanuel. He judged people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin; he was truly color blind.”

Wladimir Klitschko

Breaking me down even further was Hearns, who Steward took off the streets and turn into a legendary multiple champion.

Soaking in tears, Hearns shared: “This is hard for me. I said this morning that I would be alright. I tried to make Emanuel proud of me. He was a very special man in my life. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without Emanuel Steward in my life. He was more than a trainer to me — he was like a dad. He taught me things, and I saw my life change.”

Wladimir, who flew in from Germany said: “We have lost a friend, but Manny Steward lives in the hearts of all of us. He had a great gift from God. I will carry on all my life what he taught me. He was a great mentor.”

“I had the opportunity to meet Emanuel about 40 years ago,” Bing said during an uplifting but heart-wrenching memorial service. “We had great respect for each other, and I have always looked upon him as a friend. He represented his family and the city of Detroit with dignity. He always made me very proud to know him.”

Emanuel Steward at his last interview at the Joe Lewis Arena in Detroit. Dan Graschuck photo

Leonard called Steward a trainer of life. “He saved the lives of kids out there by putting them in a sweaty gym,” he recalled.

Said Holyfield: “Nobody ever lost when they did what Emanuel Steward told them to do in the ring.”

Lewis echoed the sentiments of many: “Emanuel was there for my major fights — I wish I was there for his. He is the greatest trainer that ever lived. We can’t forget his contribution to the sport of boxing. I can only rejoice in his memory.”

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII