“In boxing, everybody has their favorites.” Thomas Hearns
The year was 1992, it was a Tuesday night and I happened upon this show on the USA network that would change my list of favorite sports forever. The show was Tuesday Night Fights; I won’t claim to remember who was fighting, but it set in motion a chain of events. It was no later than the following Friday I found myself at the library getting every VHS tape of old boxing greats (Ali, Forman, Leonard, Hearns, etc) that I could find. It was not much later I realized that boxing was more than a sport about two boxers brutally beating each other to a pulp. To an untrained eye, a punch is just a punch, but to a student of boxing every punch is a plan to execute success. Once this is understood by most boxers and their camps, the importance of a great trainer becomes priority number one. For great boxers like Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and of course, Thomas Hearns, that key to success was Emanuel Steward.
Emanuel “Manny” Steward known also as “The Godfather of Detroit Boxing”, was a boxer turned trainer. As a boxer, he was successful with a record of over 90 wins and three losses, which included being the 1963 Golden Gloves winner. Years after Manny hung up his gloves, he would translate his mastered skills and understanding of boxing into a producer of championship boxers. Amongst one of the first champions he trained was the great Tommy Hearns; many credit Manny for taking this average puncher to the point of being known as one of the best power punchers, forever to be known as “The Hitman.” If Tommy Hearns doesn’t quite make my point, try a boxer that went under Manny’s tutelage after being beat by one of Manny’s boxer; who else but Lennox Lewis. Lennox, who was popular from 1996-2002, would take the heavyweight division by storm with Manny in his corner for over 40 wins (32 which were knock outs). Those are just two of the champions that were taken to the top of boxing with the guidance of a master of the sport, Emanuel Steward. I can go on and on about the success of Manny and when the shock passes I will probably have additional words to describe this sad moment in history. To me, the sport of boxing has changed in so many ways both good and bad, but Emanuel was my one constant. He has and will always be in my mind one of, if not, the greatest trainers of my generation. Although my grief will not compare to that of his family and those who knew him personally; I will deeply miss him for more than a 10-count…
Rest In Peace,
July 7, 1944-October 25, 2012