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"That's Kronk, motherfucker!" - How Detroit gym reignited Tyson Fury

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

15:45 23 Feb 2020

"Fresh meat!"

It's a call that has sent a chill through many boxers that have entered Detroit's Kronk Gym and is meant as both a challenge and a welcome.

How you react is the first indication of whether you will make it at the Kronk and, by extension, the very top of boxing.

Two of those to have been cat-called made it to the very top last night, in Tyson Fury - and his coach, Andy Lee. Along with Javan 'SugarHill' Steward, the trio combined to ensure the British fighter became WBC heavyweight champion of the world, after years pockmarked by drink, drugs and mental health issues for Fury.

Pressure makes diamonds, and there is no more intense an environment than the Kronk.

The gym was built with the sweat and effort of Emanuel Steward, his coaches and charges. Fabled names like Tommy Hearns honed their art within its walls; the Motor City providing the perfect backdrop for a sport of such precision engineering and gritty determination.

Over the years, the likes of Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko entered its ring, with Steward taking their raw talents, knocking off some edges and adding others.

In 2006, the gym at McGraw Avenue was closed after thieves stripped the building of copper piping. In 2017, a fire gutted the building and a landmark to sporting excellence was lost in its original form.

But the Kronk is more than a building, it is a way of being.

Last night, among the glitz and glamour of a showpiece Las Vegas event, Manny's nephew SugarHill and Andy Lee helped draw out in Fury what was already there.

The showman was on show. But the precise, cerebral boxer was released in full - power and precision combined to devastating effect.

He kept his American opponent at arm's length at all times, reacting to adversity not by backing off, but re-entering the fray with measured jabs, overhand rights and - rare enough in the heavyweight division - powerful body shots.

"That's Kronk, motherfucker!"

"That's Kronk, motherfucker!" exclaimed Steward to BBC Radio Five Live after the fight and it is hard to disagree.

Fury and his team would be too savvy to criticise Fury's former coach Ben Davison and there is no reason to suspect they in any way disrespect the work of the British trainer.

But Fury sought Steward and Lee's experience for a reason; he knew that he needed to take a different approach to show what he can do.

Fury contacted Lee to recommend a coach and, following a definitive list of every coach he could think of, Lee told him the name that both men had thought the first-choice: SugarHill.

"I know the personalities and I know the style and the way Sugar Hill trains. I knew that it would gel well. There is a circle, he's back in that Kronk mode," said Lee of the self-styled 'Gypsy King'.

Fury wanted Steward and the feeling was mutual. Steward wouldn't consider the camp without Lee.

The team have not been playing games.

They have been clear as to what the tactics would be - getting Fury on the front foot, adding power to that incredible reach and keeping Fury present and mindful in his fighting.

"I don't want to say his ghost - but he's definitely looming large over this camp," Lee told Off The Ball about Manny Steward's influence on their preparations.

"I would say that Emanuel is here with us in some way and all the decisions we make and all the instructions are all things that I do, even things like wrapping hands.

"I always say what would Emanuel do in this situation, now - especially for this camp."

After the stardust of last night, it is hard to see that he would have done any different.

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Andy Lee Deontay Wilder Kronk Tyson Fury

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