Obituary: Emanuel Steward / Trainer of boxing champions
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Emanuel Steward, one of the most eminent boxing trainers of the modern era, whose stable of fighters included Lennox Lewis, Tommy Hearns, Evander Holyfield and Wladimir Klitschko, died Thursday in Chicago. He was 68.
His companion, Anita Ruiz, confirmed the death, saying only that Mr. Steward had been hospitalized in Chicago for several weeks.
A coal miner's son from West Virginia, Mr. Steward was known in particular for his long association with the Kronk Gym in Detroit.
A basement boxing gym in a down-at-the-heels neighborhood, it became famous for the string of marquee names it produced under his supervision.
Mr. Steward, who eventually owned the gym, trained more than 30 world champions there and elsewhere, among them Julio Cesar Chavez, a six-time world champion in three different weight classes; Oscar de la Hoya, who won 10 world titles in six classes; former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks; and, most recently, Mr. Klitschko, the reigning heavyweight champion.
Among Mr. Steward's crowning achievements as a trainer were Mr. Holyfield's upset of Riddick Bowe to regain the world heavyweight title in 1993 and Mr. Lewis' eighth-round knockout of Mike Tyson in 2002 for the heavyweight crown.
Mr. Steward was also a longtime commentator for HBO Sports.
A genial, fatherly presence in a sport not known for soft speech, Mr. Steward had an eye for up-and-coming fighters and a Balanchinian skill at molding movement.
"I keep things simple, and I give everybody their own individuality," Mr. Steward told The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn., in 2007. "You never see all my fighters fight the same way. I find the best punches and movements that are the most natural for the coordination of their body types."
Mr. Steward was by his own account as interested in what made a fighter tick outside the ring as in it. He typically visited boxers in their homes or took them to live in his. If he determined that they were not eating well enough, he cooked for them.
Emanuel Steward was born on July 7, 1944, in Bottom Creek, W.Va., and began boxing at 8 after receiving a pair of Jack Dempsey gloves for Christmas. When he was about 11, his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother and sisters to Detroit.
The Kronk Gym closed in 2006; Mr. Steward continued training fighters elsewhere in Detroit. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996.
First Published October 27, 2012 12:00 am