Update: 4:36 p.m.: After much back and forth, the Detroit Free Press confirmed that legendary boxer Emanuel Steward did indeed die today. According to Steward’s sister Diane Steward-Jones, Steward died at 2:46 p.m. Detroit time at a Chicago-area hospital, after attempting to recover from surgery that was related to diverticulitis.
Stewart told the Detroit Free Press by phone, “He has passed – he’s gone home. He was in no pain, and we sang to him, as well as did the doctors present. He had loved ones around him.”
On Steward’s disposition during what would become the last days of his life, Steward-Jones said that her brother kept up his sense of humor by “recruiting” hospital staff for his boxing gym, “They loved him,” Steward-Jones said. “He’d tell them to lose some weight and fight for him.”
And in his final moments, Steward-Jones said he was cocooned in love, “He gave it his all,” she said. “But he’s been called away now.”
Reports indicate that Steward’s close friends announced Steward’s death to the media, but according to the Detroit Free Press, Steward’s family has denied his death and is asking to be left alone.
In an e-mail, Steward’s sister Diane Steward-Jones, reportedly wrote:
At this point, I’m asking EVERYBODY to LEAVE US ALONE so that we can comfort and communicate with Emanuel. His surgical team just dropped by and scoffed at the reports he is dead.
Steward was/is reportedly recovering from a surgery related to his condition of diverticulitis, which is a painful stomach ailment that occurs when small pouches form along the wall of the colon.
Born in Bottom Creek, West Virginia, Steward got in to boxing at 8 years old. After he moved to Detroit to live with his mother at 12 years old, he would start his boxing career as an amateur boxer at the Brewster Recreation Center, earning 94 wins and 3 losses.
Steward’s time as a storied trainer would begin after he began serving as a part-time trainer to his brother, James Steward, in 1971.
By 1980, Steward would earn his first world championship with boxer Hilmer Kenty, who beat Ernesto Espana. His biggest success, though, came with his training of Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, who won six world titles in five distinct weight divisions throughout his successful career.
Watch Steward talk about boxing here:
Steward would also reportedly train and mentor Lennox Lewis, Duane Thomas, Steve McCrory, Jimmy Paul, and Dennis Andries. At the time of his death, he was training boxing powerhouse Wladimir Klitschko (pictured below), who mourned his trainer’s passing, “Boxing has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Emanuel Steward.”
According to the Detroit Press, Palace fight promoter Joseph Donofrio said:
The boxing world has lost one of its most valuable and honorable assets with the loss of Emanuel Steward. He was not only my mentor in the world of promotions but also to thousands of others here in Detroit and his extended reach throughout the world.
And ESPN Boxing Analyst Nigel Collins tweeted:
The death of Emanuel Steward is a great loss to boxing & to every person who knew him. I will miss him dearly.
With hope, Steward is still with us.