Emanuel Steward, a Detroit boxing coach who trained a long list of champion fighters, including Thomas Hearns, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Oscar De La Hoya, died today at age 68, the Associated Press reported.
Steward’s sister, Diane Steward Jones, said he recently underwent surgery for diverticulitis, but others said it was for advanced cancer, ESPN reported.
“Emanuel was Mr. Boxing in Detroit,” Frank Garza, a Michigan fight referee and close friend of Steward’s, told the Detroit Free Press. “He was like Gordie Howe is to Detroit hockey and Al Kaline to Detroit baseball.”
In the 1970s, Steward turned Detroit’s Kronk Gym, located in the dingy basement of a community center, into a place that produced world champions, the AP reported.
According to ESPN:
Training fighters was not just a job for Steward. He often took fighters in to live with him in his Detroit home, training them by day and parenting them by night.
The Boxing Writers Association of America named him trainer of the year in 1993 and 1997, and he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996, ESPN reported. From 2001 on, he also served as a boxing analyst for HBO.
Most recently, Steward worked with current heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, the AP reported. Klitschko, currently preparing to defend his title against Mariusz Wach on Nov.10, earlier this week announced that pro heavyweight Johnathon Banks, a Steward disciple, would take the ailing Steward’s place as his trainer for the fight, ESPN reported.
“[Steward’s] spirit is always here,” Klitschko told the AP. “I can hear his voice in sparring while doing things, whispering in my ear. As the famous saying goes, ‘The show must go on,’ and that’s exactly the case.”
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