Detroit’s historic Kronk Gym has closed for good. The gym — actually the cramped basement of an already decommissioned community rec center — opened just after WWI, and became world-famous as a champ-factory under trainer Emanuel Steward, who drilled boxing luminaries like Hector “Macho” Camacho, Julio César Chávez, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis in the Kronk’s worn, humid ring.

What finally did the stalwart little gym in? A dip in the popularity of boxing? A lack of city funds to maintain recreation centers? A grim vendetta by a wronged would-be champ?

No, none of these; scrap metal thieves killed the Kronk. In September thieves stole the gym’s copper plumbing — presumably to be sold as scrap — cutting off the gym’s water supply. As the ultimate expense of replacing the plumbing became apparent, what began as a temporary closure for repairs became permanent.

“Throughout the years, the Kronk became an icon. It represents Detroit’s grit and determination,” said Bill Kozerski, a local fight promoter. “If it passes, an era in Detroit boxing will go with it.”

There is a benefit to replace the Kronk Gym tomorrow night (November 30) at the Star Southfield theater. Sylvester Stallone is expected to attend, and introduce the screening of the newest installment of the Rocky saga: Rocky Balboa. Tickets are $25 for the movie and $100 for the VIP reception. Call 248.796.5198 for more information.

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