There are very few names in the boxing world that epitomize the greatness of the sport than Emanuel Steward. The legendary boxer died yesterday after battling an undisclosed illness. He was 68.
Scroll down to watch one of Steward’s final interviews
A trainer of dozens of world heavyweight champions, Steward was one of the few living boxing icons who trained fighters for matches that were, at one time, broadcast for free on television. Whether it was through his boxing commentary on HBO–a job he held since 2001–or his presence in the ring side corner of the world’s greatest fighters, Steward was ubiquitous figure in the fight game.
Though his humility was equal to his greatness as a trainer of pugilists. Never one to boast, many of Staward’s greatest contributions to the sport are relatively unknown. So NewsOne has put together a list of facts that many readers may not have known about the boxing legend.
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1) Emanuel Steward is a Detroiter, but he was actually born in Bottom Creek, W.Va., on July 7, 1944. At the age of 12, he and his mother moved to Detroit when he was 12 years old. Source: Detroit Free Press
2) Though Steward was a boxing trainer, he actually was a fighter himself. He began swinging his fists in the streets but joined the Brewster Recreation Center in Detroit where he began an amateur boxing career. He won the 1963 Golden Gloves tournament in the bantamweight division. Rather than pursuing a professional boxing career, Steward joined Detroit Edison Co. In 1971, he accepted a part-time position as head coach of the boxing program at the Kronk Recreation Center. Source: Detroit Free Press and Associated Press
3) Steward’s first professional boxing champion was a fighter by the name of Hilmer Kenty, a lightweight from Columbus, Ohio, who started training at Kronk’s Gym in 1978 and won the WBA title two years later. Source: Associated Press
4) Steward’s first prime-time champ was Tommy “Hitman” Hearns. He was the first boxer to win titles in four divisions — he won five overall — and topped his 155-8 amateur record by going 61-5-1 with 48 knockouts as a pro. Source: Associated Press
5) Forty-one boxers won world championships under Emanuel Steward tutelage. Source: Sports Illustrated
6) To get Evander Holyfield to “lossen up” for his fight against Mike Tyson, he took the fighter dancing. He also cooked many of his boxers’ meals; he even learned the recipes of Lenox Lewis’ mom’s Jamaican cuisines. There was no task too small for Steward when it came to helping his fighters become champions. Source: Sports Illustrated
7) The Boxing Writer’s Association of America named him trainer of the year in 1993 and 1997. Source: ESPN
8) In 1996, Steward was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Source: ESPN
9) Steward’s Kronk Gym closed in 2006 but he continued training fighter’s elsewhere in Detroit. Source: New York Times
10) Steward trained the current world heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, for the past ten years. It was only this week that Klitschko switched trainers for his upcoming fight due to Steward’s illness. It was longest amount of time Steward spent with a fighter since his days with Tommy “Hitman” Hearns. Source: New York Times
Hall of Fame fight trainer’s funeral is set for Nov. 13 at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit.