Legendary boxing trainer Emanuel Steward dies at 68
Kronk Gym legendary boxing trainer Emanuel Steward passed away on Thursday, October 25, 2012 — his sister, Diane Steward-Jones said. He was 68 years old.
According to reports, Emanuel Steward — who had been confined in a Chicago-area hospital for several weeks after undergoing surgery for what was termed diverticulitis, died at 2:46 in the afternoon, Detroit time.
Emanuel’s sister, Diane — who handled business and public relations for her brother — said that she and several other family members were by his side.
“He has passed – he’s gone home,” Steward-Jones said by phone. “He was in no pain, and we sang to him, as well as did the doctors present. He had loved ones around him.”
Diane said even toward the end, her brother Emanuel Steward tried to recruit male nurses and other medical staff to box for him.
“They loved him,” she said. “He’d tell them to lose some weight and fight for him.”
Steward-Jones said she was trying to stay busy by tidying up Steward’s hospital room.
“He gave it his all,” she said. “But he’s been called away now.”
Emanuel Steward trained and guided the likes of Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty and Milton McCrory to world titles in the 1980s at the Kronk Gym on McGraw in Detroit.
Born in Bottom Creek, West Virginia, Steward moved at the age of 12 with his mother to Detroit, where he became a street-smart kid with a quick temper and quick fists.
In a life-changing move away from the gangs in the neighborhood, Emanuel Steward joined the Brewster Recreation Center and began an amateur boxing career, winning the 1963 Golden Gloves tournament in the bantamweight division.
Because his family needed his financial support, Steward became a lineman with the city before he and his half brother James began coaching at the Kronk Gym, a focal point for young amateur fighters.
Emanuel Steward then took the Kronk and its fighters to triumphant heights, transforming a skinny Hearns into one of the most devastating boxers in the history of the ring and mentoring a good number of supporting champs over the years, including Jimmy Paul, Duane Thomas, Dennis Andries, Steve McCrory, Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis and present-day heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko.
Although the original Kronk Gym, which was housed in the basement of the Kronk Recreation Center, was closed in 2006 by the City of Detroit because of financial issues, Emanuel Steward was able to relocate the heart and soul of Kronk Gym to a small building on East Warren, located a few blocks west of Southfield Road, where champions and street kids still train shoulder-to-shoulder.
Boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, who worked for several years as an HBO color boxing commentator, was relentless in his charity work around Detroit, establishing the Kronk Gym Foundation to help endangered youths get an education and a chance of livinga normal life.
Steward never turned a boxer or someone in need of a meal or a chat away from his home in Rosedale Park or from his Kronk Gym.
Early Thursday, Frank Garza, a leading Michigan fight referee and a close friend of Emanuel Steward, said in a statement: “Emanuel was Mr. Boxing in Detroit. He was like Gordie Howe is to Detroit hockey and Al Kaline to Detroit baseball.”
“He loved to live, and he loved to give. He was a down-to-earth guy when you were with him. As a trainer, he was a brilliant strategist. If you ever wanted to win a fight, you just listened to his advice,” Garza concluded.