Emanuel Steward, an International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer, HBO fight analyst, and owner of the legendary Kronk Gym in southwestern Detroit, died at the age of 68 after a long battle with diverticulitis Thursday afternoon at a hospital in Chicago.
Steward, who compiled an extraordinary record of 94-3 as an amateur and won the 1963 national Golden Gloves tournament as a bantamweight, first became an educator of pugilism for financial reasons in 1971.
Over the course of the past 40 years, Steward, whose heavyweights amassed an amazing combined mark of 34-2-1 in title bouts, worked with 41 titleholders, including prizefighting icons like Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.
Probably of more significance, the boxing brain helped remove countless kids from the violent “Motown” streets by teaching them The Sweet Science.
Roger "Pit" Perron is a venerable boxing trainer from Brockton (Mass.) who now works with Mike and Rich Cappiello at their gym, Cappiello Brothers Boxing and Training.
“I knew he (Steward) was doing badly,” said Perron, 76, who worked in the 1980s with International Boxing Hall of Famer Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the Petronelli Brothers Gym. “It’s really sad. He was a great trainer and a truly great guy.”
Jeff Lyons is a boxing fanatic who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport.
Like Perron, the South Bostonian raved about Steward’s expertise as a cornerman.
“A lot of those champions Manny trained, like Oscar (De La Hoya), Evander (Holyfield) and Klitschko, he started working with after they were established,” said Lyons, 33. “But, he brought up Hearns, (James) Toney and Jermain Taylor. I thought he did good work with (Miguel) Cotto. But, his masterpiece was Lewis, the most underrated fighter of my lifetime.”
Renowned sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once referred to boxing as “the red light district of sports” due to its rogue nature.
In an industry loaded with seedy lowlifes, Steward “was a great trainer and a truly great guy.”
The boxing world was floored, and forever changed Thursday with the premature loss of Emanuel Steward.