Emanuel “Manny” Steward, born July 7th, 1944 in Bottom Creek, WV, was an American boxing legend. Steward took up boxing at eight years old after receiving boxing gloves from his parents. When “Manny” was ten years old his parents divorced and after the split he moved with his mom and two younger siblings to Detroit. According to a Sports Illustrated article they took the train and it rained the whole way.
During Steward’s career as an amateur boxer he had 94 wins and 3 losses, winning the golden gloves in 1963. Steward never turned pro. Instead he would become one of the most successful boxing trainers in American History. Manny trained more than 40 world champions over the course of his career including Oscar De La Hoya, Lennox Lewis and most notably Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns – the first fighter to win a world championship in five different weight classes.
Steward was more than a fighter and coach in the ring. He was a fighter in life. Before developing a world-class boxing program at The Kronk Gym in Southwest Detroit he worked for Chrysler then later as a laborer for Detroit Edison. He took night classes at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn to elevate his position and eventually became a master electrician. When Manny left Edison to run the boxing program, to make ends meet he sold cosmetics and insurance door to door and took on electrical jobs. He did what he had to do to make an impossible dream a reality.
Emanuel Steward passed away from diverticulitis on October 25th, 2012 in Chicago, IL. Quite often we pass by the old house on Bretton and West Outer Drive and think of the 80’s winters where we would see fresh wreaths hanging on the door purchased from the local boy scout troop. Those kids sold door to door just as he had in those early days. And just maybe his time at the Kronk was more about healing other kids who missed their dad than it ever was about boxing.
“I went to a motivational training course once, a course of self-discovery, and I found out after a week that my fear – it was not a fear of not being accepted – was a very violent fear of failure.” Emanuel Steward
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