Emmanuel Steward's name will forever be associated with the Kronk gym in Detroit where he had trained legendary fighters such as Thomas (Hitman) Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis and most recently Vlad Klitschko. He even trained Prince Naseem Hamed at the end of his career, attempting to teach the Prince to dance and use his feet in the way the greats did.
No weakling himself, Steward had won 94 of 97 fights boxing as an amateur and was the bantamweight champion of America in 1963. Moving into the seventies he opened the Kronk sweat gym where he soon discovered his first world champion Hilmer Kenty, the first world champion the motor city of Detroit had seen since the great Joe Louis. The first real glimpse of Steward's talent came shining through in 1980 with the then vicious welterweight Hearns.
Steward was instrumental in constructing what is still regarded as the one of the greatest fights of all time, the super-fight between Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard. Typically modest Steward said the whole thing was done in an hour. Hearns then went on to fight in THE greatest fight ever against Marvelous Marvin Hagler, getting knocked out in the third round.
Steward went on to become trainer and mentor to a total of 43 world champions. He also had a wonderful secondary career as a ringside analyst alongside Larry Merchant for HBO boxing. He would take champions and re-model them. Not only in fighting style but adding little quirky ideas, such as the time he gave Hearns a pair of white shorts to box in. Steward said the lighter colour was what had inspired Ali to be so light on his feet as he had shadow boxed in front of a full length mirror. Dark shorts said Steward, made you feel heavy.
He created tighter defense systems for two of the dominant heavyweight champions of the last decade - Lewis and Klitschko, rehabilitating both after each had come off losses. Lennox became the most successful British Heavyweight ever, retiring at the top and defeating in rematches his only two conquerors. He had fought Tyson, Holyfield, all of his peers and beaten them all.
The list of champions at one time under Steward's guidance remains impressive; James Toney, Gerald McClellan, Jermaine Taylor Miguel Cotto, Wilfred Benetiz, Michael Moorer, Mike McCollum and Oscar De La Hoya all came to Steward for his guidance. He taught them to blend balance, movement, power and speed with a vibrant enthusiasm that was contagious. Steward loved boxing and loved to talk boxing day or night. He had been fighting a stomach cancer for some time until his death on 25 October 2012. A true Hall of Famer, boxing has lost one of the Greats. With Angelo Dundee passing away not so long ago, we may not see the like of Emmanuel Steward again.
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