Leland Stein III

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

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