Boxing folks weighed in on the sad news, that the legendary trainer Emanuel Steward, this era's “It” trainer, had died, at age 68, from cancer.
Lennox Lewis, the gargantuan heavyweight, probably Steward's second best-known client, behind Thomas Hearns, put out a statement.
“I’m completely devastated by the passing of my long time friend, mentor and trainer Emanuel “Manny” Steward,” Lewis wrote. “Manny has helped me get through some of the biggest fights in my career and I only regret that I couldn’t return the favour and see him through his biggest fight.
We’ve maintained a close relationship and the last time we spoke he seemed his usual upbeat self so it was very disturbing to hear about his illness and rapid decline. It is with a heavy heart that realization of what I hoped were just rumors are now in fact true. Manny always told me I was the best, but the truth is, HE was the best and I’m grateful, privileged and honoured to be counted among his many historic successes.
This has been a very tragic year for the boxing world, but today we’ve truly lost one of it’s crown jewels. Manny was giving, selfless, compassionate and stern. He always gave back to the community and never forgot where he came from. He was an institution unto himself and I’m proud to have had him in my corner for so many years. I’m extremely grateful for the time that I was given with him and he will be severely missed by all who knew and loved him. I’ll miss his smile, his frank no holds barred truthfulness and our discussions on boxing and life. My prayers and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time.”
Steward worked with Oscar De La Hoya in 1997. Oscar also issued a release:
“It brings me great grief and sadness to hear of the passing of one of the best and most respected trainers of this era, Emanuel Steward.
“I learned a lot from him during our professional relationship and I will be forever grateful for his help during that time.
“We were also friends and I know I am going to miss him as so many others will too. He was an important part of our boxing community.”
The cabler Showtime offered their take on the death of the man who did analysis for their rival, HBO. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the legendary Emanuel Steward today,” said Showtime sports boss Stephen Espinoza. “Not only was Emanuel one of the most esteemed and accomplished boxing trainers in the history of the sport, he was also an incredibly generous and warm-hearted human being. In addition to his many professional pursuits, Emanuel served as a life coach to countless young men and women, particularly in his beloved adopted hometown of Detroit, and through them his legacy will live on. Those who were fortunate enough to have known Emanuel will remember him for his infectious enthusiasm, ever-present smile and seemingly limitless generosity. We extend our deepest condolences to the Steward family during this difficult time. He will be missed by everyone his spirit touched.”
Michael Buffer confessed that he's at a loss. “Twenty-four hours have gone by since the passing of Emanuel Steward. It has been and remains an emotionally painful time dealing with this loss. I am still unable to actually speak without choking up. The comments and statements of admiration and respect, honoring and memorializing his life, legacy and career have been honest, beautiful and deserving. He was and shall always be true boxing royalty but to those of us blessed to have been closer he was so very much more. As a fan and colleague I mourn the loss of a legend…an icon. As a friend, I have lost a loved one and my heart is broken.”
Thomas Hearns shared his thoughts about Steward with Lem Satterfield of Ring. “Emanuel Steward was like the father I never had. To me, that's what he was, because my father was never there for me. He never spent any time with me. I never really knew my father, but I knew Emanuel. I first met Emanuel probably when I was 13. He was someone who was very, very dear to me, when you're talking about Emanuel. Emanuel Steward to me, he was a man that changed my life. He helped me to become the man that I've become today.”
Saturday night during the HBO Boxing After Dark telecast (10:15 p.m. ET/PT) from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, HBO Sports will present a video tribute to Steward.