With the passing of Emanuel Steward, who died of undisclosed causes last Thursday at age 68, boxing lost one of its finest ambassadors. The ever-garrulous and energetic Steward (left) was a Hall of Fame trainer who worked with more than two dozen world champions—including such greats as Tommy Hearns, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko—as well as an engaging and insightful commentator for HBO. Even more, he was an embodiment of his sport's foundational narrative of self-determination: Born in West Virginia, he moved with his mother to Detroit, where he took up boxing at age 12, training at the famed Brewster's Gym, home of Joe Louis. After winning the 1963 national Golden Gloves bantamweight title, Steward went to work as a lineman for Detroit Edison and swapped his fight gloves for a pair of trainer's mitts. In the years that followed he would transform the city's Kronk Gym from a neighborhood rec center into an amateur and professional powerhouse—and himself into a wealthy and famous man. What drove Steward till the end, though, and what made him so beloved, was his commitment to his fighters. "Emanuel was like my father," Hearns told the Detroit Free Press last week. "He molded me, shaped me." Countless fighters could say the same.
ALEXANDER HASSENSTEIN/BONGARTS/GETTY IMAGES (STEWARD)