Remembering Detroit Boxing Legend Emanuel Steward

Emanuel Steward's boxing clinic

Emanuel Steward’s boxing clinic, photo by yousef_anani

Boxing legend Emanuel Steward, one of the greatest trainers ever, was remembered yesterday in Detroit. The entry for Emanuel Steward at the International Boxing Hall of Fame begins:

Steward, who was born in West Virginia in 1944, has been one one of the most successful trainers and managers in the last two decades of the 20th century.

Like many young men, he started boxing after receiving a pair of boxing gloves as a gift. The youngster boxed in informal matches that his father set up. When his parents separated, he moved with his mother to Detroit. By age 12, he was training at the Brewster Recreation Center, which had been the boxing home of Joe Louis and Eddie Futch. As an amateur, he ran up a record of 94-3, which culminated with a 1963 National Golden Gloves title. Steward than began training amateur fighters, but eventually gave that up and found full-time employment as an electrician.

But boxing was in his blood. In 1971, he was asked to look after his half-brother James, who was 15 at the time. Steward took him to a nearby gym called, the Kronk. It wasn’t long before Emanuel was coaching again. In 1971, his charges dominated the Detroit Golden Gloves, winning seven championships. A year later, he left the security of a full-time electrician’s job, and turned his attention to boxing, and the Kronk.

By the mid-70s he had built the gym into a national power, and two of his charges, Thomas Hearns and Hilmer Kenty came close to making the ’76 Olympic Team. A year later, the two turned pro with Steward serving double duty as their trainer and manager. On March 2, 1980, Kenty became Steward’s first world champion when stopped Ernesto Espana in the fourth round to win the WBA lightweight crown.

Five months later Hall of Famer Thomas Hearns stopped Pipino Cuevas with a blistering second-round kayo to become champion No. 2.

Wikipedia’s Emanuel Steward entry lists some of the fighters he trained including Hearns, Evander Holyfield, Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis and Julio César Chávez. It adds that his heavyweight fighters had a record of 34-2-1 combined in title fights. The Freep has a nice video with boxers Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard and Lennox Lewis remembering Steward that also includes a bit of Aretha Franklin singing. You may also want to read this article in the New York Times or watch this ESPN tribute to Steward.

Yousef Anani took this photo at an Emanuel Steward’s boxing clinic in London last year. See it bigger and view more in his Emanuel Steward slideshow.

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