Hall of fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, who directed the careers of several champion fighters including Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis and current heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, has died.
Steward’s executive assistant, Victoria Kirton, reported the trainer’s death at a Chicago hospital to the Associated Press on Thursday afternoon. Steward’s family has not identified a cause of death.
The personable Steward, 68, was one of his sport’s greatest resources of information, and served as an analyst on HBO’s most significant fights since 2001.
According to the boxing statistician company CompuBox, Steward trained 41 world champions, and his heavyweights accumulated a remarkable record of 34-2-1 in title fights.
“The depth of his knowledge was unsurpassed,” said HBO’s lead boxing announcer, Jim Lampley. “He was just as involved in amateur boxing as he was professional, so almost every time we’d start covering an American fighter, Emanuel had seen him at the start.”
HBO Sports President Ken Hershman said the network feels an “enormous degree of sadness and loss.”
“For more than a decade, Manny was a respected colleague who taught us so much not only about the sweet science but also about friendship and loyalty. His energy, enthusiasm and bright smile were a constant presence. Ten bells do not seem enough to mourn his passing. His contributions to the sport and to HBO will never be forgotten.”
Steward’s reach to boxing stretched to the mid-1950s, after he left his hometown of Bottom Creek, W.Va., following the death of his father.
“To get out of the coal-mining lifestyle,” Lampley said. “His father died in his 40s from the sheer physical beatdown of mining.”
Steward moved to Detroit, where he worked on auto industry assembly lines as a teenager and trained as a fighter at the city’s Brewster Recreation Center, where former heavyweight champion Joe Louis worked out and legendary Eddie Futch trained.
Steward was a Golden Gloves champion, but his family’s need for financial support led him to sacrifice a professional career for work as an electrical lineman.
As a trainer, Steward presided over a “168-hours-a-week” program in which he’d often sleep in the same room and share meals with his fighters, then train, watch film and engage in “talking, talking, talking,” Lampley said.
“If you had any personal difficulty with him, you couldn’t work with him, because you had to be in his life,” Lampley said. “Those guys loved him … Emanuel knew, with the deep personal bond, the learning curve goes up.”
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