Well-respected boxing coach, Emanuel Steward, passed away on Thursday (Oct. 25), at a Chicago hospital, after a long battle with diverticulitis. The 1963 Golden Gloves champion had surgery for the digestive disease a few weeks earlier.
Steward’s sister, Diane Steward-Jones, confirmed the sad news.
“He has passed – he’s gone home,” Diana said. “He was in no pain, and we sang to him, as well as did the doctors present. He had loved ones around him. … He went home about half an hour ago [3:46 p.m. EST]. He fought harder than [Marvin] Hagler and [Thomas] Hearns. I’ll tell you more later. It’s too tough right now.”
Even though Emanuel Steward put together a 94-3 amateur boxing record, he was best known for his famous Kronk Gym, where he consistently molded rangy fighters into world champions. One could usually spot his disciples from the high number of jabs they threw per fight.
After working as an electrician to support his family, Emanuel and his half-brother James started working with young fighters in 1971. Nine years later, Hilmer Kenty became Steward’s first world champion, knocking out Ernesto España for the WBA lightweight title.
Steward proved he was a special trainer with his work with Hearns, and he went on to mold other famous champions like Lennox Lewis, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Wladimir Klitschko just to name a few.
Steward had a strong preference for rangy fighters, which wasn’t really common a few decades ago. Lanky fighters were often considered weak back then, but Steward changed a lot of opinions with his work over the years. The International/World Boxing Hall of Fame trainer showed the world that tall, skinny fighters can be formidable opponents inside the ring, if they learn to utilize their range.
Emanuel Steward also worked as a color commentator for HBO, sharing his insights with boxing fans across the world during live events. A kind, honest, and cerebral man, Steward will go down as one of the best trainers in boxing history. His philosophies inside the ring will never die.
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.