Famed boxing trainer Steward dies at 68

Boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, right, with newly crowned WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, center, reacting with his mother, left, after a title fight in 2007.
Boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, right, with newly crowned WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, center, reacting with his mother, left, after a title fight in 2007. (JEFF SCHEID / Associated Press, file)
Posted: October 27, 2012

DETROIT - Emanuel Steward proved rough and tough wasn't the only way to win in boxing. With a twinkle in his eyes, a smile on his face, and a soothing voice, Mr. Steward developed unique bonds in and out of the ring with a long line of champions, including Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya, and Wladimir Klitschko.

Mr. Steward, 68, owner of the Kronk Gym in Detroit, an an International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer, and an HBO boxing commentator, died Thursday at a Chicago hospital. The cause of death was not disclosed.

"It is not often that a person in any line of work gets a chance to work with a legend; well, I was privileged enough to work with one for almost a decade," Klitschko said. "I will miss our time together. The long talks about boxing, the world, and life itself. Most of all I will miss our friendship."

Born in West Virginia, Mr. Steward moved to the Motor City just before becoming a teenager and trained as an amateur boxer. At the age of 18, he won the national Golden Gloves tournament as a bantamweight.

Instead of trying to make it as a pro boxer, he went to work for the Detroit Edison Co. and in 1971 took a part-time job as coach of the boxing program at the Kronk Recreation Center. A dynasty was born.

It was Hearns who really put Kronk - and the trainer known as Manny - on the map. The boxer known as Hitman was the first 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.

Although Mr. Steward had a lot of success with Hearns, some of his setbacks from his corner were among the most memorable in the sport.

Hearns was knocked out in the 14th round by Sugar Ray Leonard in 1981 - Mr. Steward said it was the most painful experience of his life - and Hearns was on the short end of a three-round fight with Marvin Hagler in 1985 that is considered one of the best bouts in boxing history.

"He brought the very, very best out of me," Hearns said of Mr. Steward.

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