Friday, October 26, 2012

Emanuel Steward Trainer of Boxing Champions Dies at 68

Emanuel Steward, one of the most eminent boxing trainers of the modern era, whose stable of fighters included Lennox Lewis, Tommy Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Wladimir Klitschko, died on Thursday in Chicago. He was 68.

Emanuel Steward was born on July 7, 1944, in Bottom Creek, W. Va., and began boxing at 8 after receiving a pair of Jack Dempsey gloves for Christmas. When he was about 11, his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother and sisters to Detroit.

Fighting as a bantamweight, Steward compiled a 94-3 record as an amateur boxer, winning the national Golden Gloves championship in 1963. He was considered a contender for the 1964 Olympic team, but, needing to support his family, he left boxing and became an electrician for Detroit Edison.

Then, in the early 1970s, Steward’s teenage half-brother, James, came from West Virginia to live with him. James wanted to box, and the two of them found their way to Kronk, where James became Emanuel’s first disciple.

The Kronk Gym closed in 2006; Steward continued training fighters elsewhere in Detroit.

Steward, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996, appears to have retained his eye for talent to the end. As Steward-Jones told The Detroit Free Press on Thursday, he spent much of his recent hospital stay trying to sign the male nurses he encountered there to fight for him.

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