Respected boxing trainer, Emanuel “Manny” Steward, who groomed young fighters, including Thomas Hearns, at Detroit’s famous Kronk Gym, died on Thursday at the age of 68.
RingTV.com has obtained the shared thoughts of a few boxing insiders regarding Steward’s passing:
Bob Arum, Top Rank CEO
“It’s horrible. He was a great friend of ours and we’ve worked together for all of those years through Kronk boxing, and with the fighters that he developed.
“He was a great friend in addition to that as well as a great business associate. I liked him very much. I really enjoyed him. We spent a lot of time together. It’s really sad that he died at what, today, is a relatively young age.
“He was a tremendous trainer and a great corner man, and his advice was very inciteful. So, obviously, it was a great help to Miguel Cotto, as it was to so many other fighters.
“Remember, he also worked with De La Hoya for a while. But his greatest achievement was with those fighters out of Detroit with all of those Kronk boxers.”
Edward Brophy, Hall of Fame executive director
“Without a doubt, Emanuel Steward was one of the most accomplished and respected trainers in the history of boxing.
“He was a great ambassador for the sport, always promoting boxing wherever he traveled. The Hall of Fame joins the worldwide boxing world in mourning the passing of a legend.”
Oscar De La Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions, formerly trained by Steward
“It brings me great grief and sadness to hear of the passing of one of the best and most respected trainers of this era, Emanuel Steward.
“I learned a lot from him during our professional relationship and I will be forever grateful for his help during that time.
“We were also friends and I know I am going to miss him as so many others will too. He was an important part of our boxing community.”
“He was a giant in our business. He was the greatest teacher of his generation, and a great ambassador for the sport. As long as there’s boxing, no one will forget Emanuel Steward. Being at HBO for all of those years, I had the chance to work with him while he was a trainer when I was at HBO.
“He was also a great announcer. He was a good friend and he had a tremendous sense of humor, he really did. He was a funny guy. He was fun to be around, and he loved boxing. He loved the sport. I have so many memories. I don’t have any one memory.”
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager, Showtime Sports.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the legendary Emanuel Steward today. Not only was Emanuel one of the most esteemed and accomplished boxing trainers in the history of the sport, he was also an incredibly generous and warm-hearted human being.
“In addition to his many professional pursuits, Emanuel served as a life coach to countless young men and women, particularly in his beloved adopted hometown of Detroit, and through them his legacy will live on.
“Those who were fortunate enough to have known Emanuel will remember him for his infectious enthusiasm, ever-present smile and seemingly limitless generosity.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the Steward family during this difficult time. He will be missed by everyone his spirit touched.”
Thomas Hauser, boxing historian
“Emanuel Steward was an important part of my professional life and also my friend. He was one of my ‘go-to’ guys. Whenever I was researching a major article — whether it was on fighters from the past or the contemporary boxing scene — I’d call Emanuel.
“We’d talk about what made this fighter great or how an upcoming bout shaped up. He was unfailingly generous with his time and knowledge. Over the years, we fell into a routine of getting together for lunch or dinner whenever I was on site for an HBO World Championship Boxing or HBO-PPV fight.
“He wasn’t a snob like some major players on the boxing scene. He treated low-level Internet writers, career club fighters, and everyone else he met with respect.”
“Emanuel Steward was like the father I never had. To me, that’s what he was, because my father was never there for me. He never spent any time with me.
“I never really knew my father, but I knew Emanuel. I first met Emanuel probably when I was 13. He was someone who was very, very dear to me, when you’re talking about Emanuel.
“Emanuel Steward to me, he was a man that changed my life. Emanuel Steward helped me to become the man that I’ve become today.”
Ken Hershman, HBO’s president of Sports
“There are no adequate words to describe the enormous degree of sadness and loss we feel at HBO Sports with the tragic passing of Manny Steward.
“For more than a decade, Manny was a respected colleague who taught us so much not only about the sweet science but also about friendship and loyalty.
“His energy, enthusiasm and bright smile were a constant presence. Ten bells do not seem enough to mourn his passing. His contributions to the sport and to HBO will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
“It’s a big loss for boxing. It’s sad. He’s one of the mentors. I knew Manny personally, and we went back to the amateur days. I can say this in confidence: In my mind, Manny was the best trainer ever in boxing. The reason why I say that is that he could develop his products and he was a great diamond finisher.
“But he raised them. He didn’t have to give an explanation to why he was able to finish up a diamond that somebody else had mined, because he had mined so many of them himself. He loved talking about the good old days, watching these young guys develop.
“Jimmy Paul, Dwight Davison, and people like that who he developed from scratch. To me, that’s the sign of a great man. Manny had a hold on boxing when he arrived, and he had a solid grip on it when he left and now that he’s gone.”
Wladimir Klitschko, RING heavyweight champion, trained by Steward
“Boxing has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Emanuel Steward. Vitali and I, along with the entire Team Klitschko, send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Emanuel’s family and friends.
“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. I will miss our time together.
“The long talks about boxing, the world, and life itself. Most of all I will miss our friendship. Rest in peace Emanuel. You will be greatly missed.
“My team and I will carry on with the goals we had set while Emanuel was with us because that is exactly what Emanuel would have wanted.
“I know he will be with us in spirit along the way and we will accomplish these goals in his honor. Until we meet again my friend.”
Jim Lampley, HBO color commentator
“I couldn’t be sadder. He was one of the greatest men I’ve ever met, and it was a privilege just to know him. You have to count yourself as extremely fortunate just to have been able to spend even just a few minutes with this man.
“So to have spent the countless hours that I’ve spent with him, that’s a treasure that I will carry with me for as long as I live. We’re talking about Emanuel Steward, and there’s only one Emanuel Steward, and he was my dearest friend. I feel a sense of enormous and incalculable loss.
“I’m sitting here thinking that I don’t know if I have ever had a closer friend, and yet I know that he had dozens, if not, hundreds more like me, because of his generousity, which was so big, and because of his outreach, which was so pure. His loyalty was so precious. Just the finest man you would ever want to meet.”
“It’s devastating. Thank God I had the chance to see him in Las Vegas at the WBC boxing convention. We got a chance to talk a little bit. I had heard that he was sick, but Manny is such a fighter, himself, that he can put on this front.
“Besides looking a little smaller and a little thinner, he looked pretty good. But I don’t think about those times when I saw him like that. I think about the times that we had together. That was one of the ways that I was able to qualify for the 1976 Olympics is that I went to the Kronk Gym in Detroit.
“That was before Tommy Hearns became a professional. Emanuel took me into his arms and into his gym, and I think that I was there for a couple of weeks in preparation for the trials. Detroit took me in as a child over there. I was like, 20, so this was just prior to the Olympics.
“I was going another route. But, it’s been so long, some almost 40 years ago. But we had a bond. Emanuel came to my house before the second Thomas Hearns fight, and, in fact, I think that he was the guy who set that up. Looking back, in retrospect, he was the one who set that up.
“I mean, really, I took him to dinner, and we had a few bottles of wine, and then, some way, somehow, that fight came to fruition. Good for Manny.”
“I’m completely devastated by the passing of my long time friend, mentor and trainer Emanuel ‘Manny’ Steward. Manny has helped me get through some of the biggest fights in my career and I only regret that I couldn’t return the favor and see him through his biggest fight.
“We’ve maintained a close relationship and the last time we spoke he seemed his usual upbeat self so it was very disturbing to hear about his illness and rapid decline. It is with a heavy heart that realization of what I hoped were just rumors are now in fact true.
“Manny always told me I was the best, but the truth is, he was the best and I’m grateful, privileged and honoured to be counted among his many historic successes. This has been a very tragic year for the boxing world, but today we’ve truly lost one of it’s crown jewels.
“Manny was giving, selfless, compassionate and stern. He always gave back to the community and never forgot where he came from. He was an institution unto himself and I’m proud to have had him in my corner for so many years.
I’m extremely grateful for the time that I was given with him and he will be severely missed by all who knew and loved him. I’ll miss his smile, his frank no holds barred truthfulness and our discussions on boxing and life. My prayers and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
Tom Loeffler, K2 Promotions
“The greatness of Emanuel was demonstrated by the diversity of the fighters that he trained and was able to maintain as dominant champions. Lennox Lewis and Wladimir had different styles.
“Thomas Hearns had a different style, and everything like that. It’s hard to express it in words. It’s still kind of a shock to everyone. Emanuel was the spiritual leader of the team, with his wisdom and his experience.
“That’s what guided [Wladimir Klitschko] and made him the champion that he is today. He will certainly be missed by boxing fans all over the world. Wladimir has not come out with it yet, but I’m pretty sure that he’ll dedicate his next fight to Emanuel.”
“Emanuel Steward passing today is the biggest loss to boxing in long time. He’ll be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Photo by K2 Management
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]