By Mikko Salo: When it came to voting for the Services to Boxing Award for 2012, the SecondsOut team practically gave out a unanimous decision. Emanuel Steward, one of the sport`s most beloved and respected figures, deserves all the praise and recognition that has come before and after his passing in October at 68 years old.
The traits that make Steward`s services to the sweet science so special are many, but here I will concentrate on three that stand out to me the most. They are versatility, longevity and character.
As we all know, Steward`s accomplishments as a trainer are staggering. He built the Kronk Gym into a powerhouse, first in the amateurs from early 1970s and then in the pro ranks in the latter part of the decade. Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, the McCrory brothers, Michael Moorer… list of the Kronk alumni is endless.
Later in his training career Steward`s magic took on a new form when he became a hired gun who took on projects with established fighters. This is where he made his mark as maybe the most versatile trainer in boxing history. His handprint will forever be edged in the annals of the most coveted prize in sports as he was instrumental in Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko lifting their careers from the canvas to become fighters mentioned in discussions about the greatest Heavyweight Champions of all time.
Emanuel Steward`s versatility was mainly on display as a master trainer but he also showed his knack for broadcasting as an entertaining and extremely knowledgeable expert commentator for HBO. In his side job he served the sport and the boxing fans well, being an integral part of several memorable boxing moments in a ringside role.
When the longevity of Emanuel Steward`s career is discussed, the foremost thing standing out is his endless, sustained energy over a forty year period. He truly remained as active a figure as anyone in the sport for forty years. His energy never seemed to wane and he went ahead full steam until the very end.
Finally, it is the character that makes Emanuel Steward`s services to boxing beyond comparison. He served as a lifelong father figure to several kids who became world class fighters under his tutelage. He not only made them better fighters, he made them better people. This has echoed in all the statements his fighters have made after his passing. His influence in his hometown didn`t stop at things concerning boxing, he also did valuable charity work in the Detroit area.
Emanuel Steward was a great trainer, a great teacher, a great father figure, pretty much great at whatever he did. But above all, he had great character and he was a great man, one of a kind.
December 29, 2012