By Sylvana Ambrosanio

SylvanaBoxing.com had the chance to sit down and be one on one with the late Emanuel Steward's nephew Javan "Sugar" Hill who is keeping Manny's legacy alive by creating fighters that sunpass any other out there. "I train them, which alone makes them special!" (Sugar Hill laughs) "I teach my fighters all they need to know. I continue to pass on what Emanuel has taught me" Don't miss what Sugar Hill has to say, he talks all things boxing, fighters he is currently working with, and much much more.. alot of knowledge - come back for more as we will always be checking in on Sugar Hill's boxing.

Sugar Hill is a well-known name in the sport that we love, but for those who haven’t had the chance to actually get to know him, I’ve asked him a few questions about all things boxing.

“I currently work with NABF Heavyweight Champion Jonathon Banks, Adonis Stevenson who is currently number one at the IBF, waiting on the winner of Carl froch vs. Mikkel Kessler so he can be the number one mandatory challenger; Dimitry Salita, welterweight from New York who is currently working on making his come-back; Donovan 'DA BOMB' George out of Chicago came to train with me for his up-coming fight on 22nd March which will be shown on ESPN; Ruslan Chagaev, whose wife has just had another baby, moved to Michigan and is now part of the Kronk Team, great things ahead for him, definitely keep an eye out on him! Joseph Bonas, Anthony Barnes and Leandre White are all up and coming stars”

The first thing that we wanted to talk about was his involvement in the world of Amateur Boxing...

“To have an outstanding amateur career is very important, from the beginning you learn everything, you work your way up - national level, international level, and then the world! To go through the amateurs is very important to be a world champion. Roy Jones Jr, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, they all had an outstanding amateur career. I’m not working with many amateurs right now though, just because I’m not training in the Kronk boxing gym since it closed after Manny’s passing. I train at a gym called Bad Boys which is outside of Detroit; they kindly let me use the gym for a place to train the fighters. The rest of the Kronk team is spread across the city in different gyms until I get a new building sorted to open a new Kronk Gym. Kronk Gym closed when Emanuel passed away whilst I was over in Germany. Emanuel and I worked on getting a new place anyway but it did not open yet as I’m looking for a brand new one. That’s how he would have wanted it”.

I’m sure boxing fans across the world often wonder what a day in the legendary Kronk gym is like. Well, Sugar Hill describes a typical scene…

“They have their basic routines when they arrive in the gym - get dressed, put their hand-wraps on, and then they start shadow boxing. You know, it’s the main things such as stretching, shadow boxing etc... I look forward to each day to see what is going to happen because every day is different. I don’t even know what exactly is going to happen. It also depends on who is showing up in the gym. If I have a different fighter show up I might say we are all boxing today or it may be something in particular someone needs to focus on. I have days where we just do some pad work, no boxing with everybody together, just pad work and show them something to work on. The next day they might go in and box, you never know, I might not do a lot of pad work with these guys that day. It’s either boxing a lot, or practice a technique. The pads are not really real boxing, you can’t try different things on your own, and a boxer will just do what they are told to do. I try to simulate boxing on the pads very well though, as far as imitating the opponent they will fight. That way, you get a good idea of what they will be placing, also in what kind of sparring will be in front of you...”

©Urs Barnes

I asked if he feels that ‘old school boxing is dying’ and whether pad work was more significant back then.

“Pad work is good, but you need to know how to handle the pads, to create something for the fighters to learn. Back in the day there was no pad work at all. It started in the 80’s people just had a pair of boxing gloves on…shadow boxing. To your question regarding the old school boxing - Yes, in a way it is because you have all the different specialties, a condition coach, an offence coach, defense coach, nutrition coach, they create extra things for these fighters. They say its technology and it makes them (the fighters) better but I believe the old school is the way to do it. It’s more successful, having worked all this time... but now they got doping guys, they add to it. It’s almost like a football team with all these coaches. You got a coach for everything. Next time you will have a coach for how to breath! They create extra jobs and kind of ruin the sport with it. I believe in conditioning, but some of the stuff they do, hasn’t anything to do with boxing and can hurt the fighter. It’s good stuff if you use it right but it’s over-used for fighters. I had one particular fighter who went, and the next thing is that he is so sore from all this stuff he’s doing; leaning back and all this weird stuff he was doing... all this stuff has nothing to do with boxing. I think you should do the traditional things in boxing. Lifting light weights and that’s it. Not all this extra stuff like jumping back three stairs and then two back, jump back up four and then jump back up three. Extra stuff to make you tired and to create something new to say ‘Oh this is really getting you in shape’. All these conditioning people have never boxed before so how do they know what we need?”

So what is Sugar Hill's view on the current state of boxing?

“Besides anything else it’s becoming more of a business. They all want to fight the best, but they don’t want to take the risk. A lot of fighters become ‘stuck in a rut’ and that’s what hurts the boxers most. It’s the promoters fault for not letting the fighters fight. I’m looking forward for the Brandon Rios fight though, I like him, and he will break everyone down the line. He loves what he does, he wants to be hit... you hit him and he knocks you down and out! I’m always looking forward to my fighters of course, Mayweather fighting Guerrero and then there is Mayweather vs. Canelo. He needs a couple more fights first though.”  

Javan has travelled around the world and says there is a big difference between American and European boxing “Americans are more creative, European boxers are more predictive.”

We then started to take a look at his last fight that he was working on - the Cornelius Bundrage fight. “Why should he win because he was in his hometown? I don’t think he has won the fight... why? Why because you are a fighter in your hometown? No, I don’t buy this hometown stuff” explained Sugar Hill

Emanuel Steward, Johnathon Banks, Sugar Hill

So let's see how Johnathon Banks is doing...

“Banks is recovering, his injury is healing and he will be going to Austria soon to work with Wladimir Klitschko for his next fight on May 4th. I think when Banks fights Mitchell again  it could be interesting this time, seeing as Mitchell has had more time to prepare for the fight. Banks will go hard again. We are coming to knock him out; we won’t leave it in the score cards hands. Plus that’s entertainment, selling tickets. As far as the rumors about Jonathon fighting one of the Klitschko Brothers... I don’t think this will ever happen because of such a close relationship between them.”

Before we finished the interview, Sugar Hill wanted to share something with you….

Joseph Bonas, Anthony Barnes and Leandre White, they are up-coming fighters. All very talented boxers! They are learning with no rush to be on the top, happy with learning boxing skills to fight offensively to become a World Champion. They all have powers, Joseph is a slick fighter, and they say Bonas is the ‘white person that fights with the style more likened to a black fighter’. You can see that he grew up watching many talented boxers! Anthony Barnes is also picking up on it. Kronk’s own are very unique and exciting fighters; they are learning and keep pushing it to the limit. They are the future in boxing. Don’t miss it and keep an eye out for them.”