Steward, Emanuel 1944–
Emanuel Steward 1944–
Boxing manager, business executive
Praised by the Boxing Register as “one of the most successful trainers and managers active in boxing today,” Emanuel Steward has demonstrated a golden touch with boxers that has led to many victories in the ring. A shrewd businessman as well as an expert trainer, he made the Kronk Gym in Detroit famous as a training ground for champion boxers. During his career Steward has trained many champions in both amateur and professional boxing, among them Thomas Hearns, Mark Breland, Milt McCrory, Lennox Lewis, and Evander Holyfield.
“As a trainer and manager, Steward preaches balance and even weight distribution for his fighters,” noted the Boxing Register He has always trained his fighters hard, often in hot, humid conditions to increase their threshold for physical punishment. Steward’s success has also been attributed to his treatment of boxers as individuals, in addition to strict monitoring of their diets and personal activities during training. He has continually adjusted his coaching style to match the specific strengths and weaknesses of each fighter and focused on the emotional and physical factors that contribute to a boxer’s success. “You can lose fights by not having control of the camp, complete control of everything’s that’s going on with the fighter,” Steward said in In the Corner: Great Boxing Trainers Talk About Their Art As Richard Hoffer added in Sports Illustrated, “Steward makes boxers feel good about themselves … he provides a total package, cooking for his guys, pulling up their socks, whatever.” In some cases, Steward has required boxers to stay in his own home in order to better control their training regimen.
Steward’s interest in boxing began after he received a pair of Jack Dempsey boxing gloves when he was eight-year-old. He was soon fighting with other boys, often in illegal contests that were staged by his father to amuse other adults. “I love the art of boxing,” he said in In the Corner about his early attraction to the sport. “I just was so fascinated with being able to hit somebody, then make them miss.” Following his parents’ separation, he moved with his mother to Detroit and continued his development as a boxer by participating both in street
At a Glance…
Born July 7, 1944, in Vivian, WV; son of Catherine Steward and Emanuel Steward, Sr.; married Marie Estelle Steel, 1964; children: Sylvia Ann, Sylvette Marie Education: Henry Ford Community Coll, graduated 1970; Detroit Edi$on4Eleariclan-Appremiceship Prog,; graduated as Master Electrician, 1970
Career: Began formal training as boxer, 1950s; compiled 94-3 record as amateur boxer, 1950s-60s; began coaching boxers on part-time basis, 1960s; worked as master electrician, Detroit Edison, 1966-72; started coaching amateur boxers at Kronk’s gym in Detroit, 1969; helped coach seven boxers to Golden Gloves championship wins, 1971; was salesman for Securities and life Ins 1972-76; first trained a professional boxer (Thomas Hearns), 1977; became pres, of Escot Boxing Enterprises Inc.; coached Evander Holyfield to upset victory over Riddick Bowe for WBA arid WBF heavy weight championship orqwns, 1993; helped Oliver McCal I defeat Lennox Lewis to win WBC heavyweight title, 1994; has trained Thomas Heams Lennox Lewis; Oscar De La Hoya, Mark Breland, Milton McCrory, Jimmy Paul, Duane Thomas, Tony Tucker, and other fighters.
Memberships : NAACP (life member); franchise holder, Little Caesar’s Pizza Chain; pres., Scholarship fund for Children; founder, Emanuel Steward Athletic Scholarship.
Awards and honors; Nat. Golden Gloves Champion (119-pound class), 1963; Amateur Boxing Coach of the Year, U, S. Amateur Boxing Coaches Assn., 1977; Manager/Trainer of the Year, Boxing Writers Assn., 1980, 1997; Manager/Trairier of the Year, WBC, 19B3; SCLC Youth Deyt Award, 1983; Life Enrichment Award, Focus Life, 1984; named to Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame, 1992,
Addresses: Home—Big Bear, California; Business— Es-cot Boxing Enterprises Inc, 19600 W. McNichols St, Detroit, Ml 48219.
fights and organized bouts. At the age of 12, he began his formal boxing training at Brewster’s Gym, the same gym where the famous heavyweight Joe Louis got his start.
Although Steward lacked punching power, he developed into a smart, competitive fighter. He compiled a 94-3 record as an amateur on the Golden Gloves circuit and captured the national Golden Gloves title in 1963. Considered by many boxing experts as a favorite for the 1964 U.S. Olympic boxing team, he left the sport to pursue a career as an electrician. After earning his degree at a local community college, Steward began coaching other boxers on a part-time basis as he moved through a succession of jobs. He continued moonlighting as a trainer while he advanced to the position of master electrician at Detroit Edison, a supervisory job that put him in charge of 200 employees.
In 1969, Steward’s father asked him to look after his 15 year-old half-brother, James. Recognizing the boy’s potential as a boxer, Steward began taking James to a relatively unknown gym that was named after John Kronk, a Detroit city councilman. Under Steward’s guidance, James won a Golden Gloves title. His brother’s victory also earned Steward a part-time job as a coach at the Kronk Gym. In 1971, seven boxers coached by Steward emerged victorious in Golden Gloves championship bouts. Confident of his coaching abilities, he quit his position at Detroit Edison in 1972, although he still worked at other part-time jobs. Steward soon developed a reputation within boxing circles as an excellent coach and trainer, which allowed the Kronk Gym to attract some of America’s finest young boxers.
In 1977, Steward began training Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns for his first professional fight. Under Steward’s guidance, Hearns developed into a champion and won boxing titles in six different weight divisions. In addition to Hearns, Steward trained other boxers and demonstrated an uncanny ability to develop the raw skills of talented youngsters and help slumping veterans return to greatness.
During the 1990s, Steward’s fighters scored a series of stunning upsets. In 1993, he engineered Evander Holy-field’s comeback win over Riddick Bowe in a rematch for both the WBA and World Boxing Federation (WBF) titles, and Oliver McCall’s surprising defeat of Lennox Lewis in 1994 for the World Boxing Congress (WBC) title. For the Holyfield-Bowe rematch, Steward helped sharpen Holyfield’s rhythm and balance, which proved crucial in overwhelming Bowe. He also cooked Holy-field’s favorite Southern-style meals after discovering that Holyfield often lost weight during the week before bouts because he hated hotel food. Through the years, Steward has often cooked meals for his boxers and prides himself on his abilities as a chef.
Following a salary dispute with Holyfield’s management team, Steward was released. He was quickly hired by boxing promoter Don King to help resurrect heavy-weight Oliver McCall’s career. Steward worked long hours to restore McCall’s confidence and changed his boxing style in preparation for his upcoming fight with reigning WBC champion Lennox Lewis. Although he was a heavy underdog, McCall knocked Lennox out in the second round to capture the WBC title.
Steward eventually left the Kronk Gym to establish a training facility in Big Bear, California. In 1997, he trained WBC welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya. Although he helped De La Hoya win his next two fights, Steward was fired later in the year after a dispute with De La Hoya’s father.
In a 1997 issue of Sports Illustrated, Steward is lauded as “the hottest trainer in boxing these days and one respected throughout his career for his independence and integrity.” Rather than serving as a full-time trainer, he is more often called upon as a consultant to “repair” struggling boxing careers. Steward occasionally works as an analyst for televised boxing matches and lives near his gym in Big Bear, California.
Anderson, Dave, In This Corner: Great Boxing Trainers Talk About Their Art, William Morrow, 1991, pp. 189-199.
Roberts, James B., Alexander G. Skutt, and the International Boxing Hall of Fame, The Boxing Register, McBooks Press, 1996, p. 434.
Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 7, 1997; April 6, 1997; April 10, 1998.
New York Times, June 13, 1992, p. A29.
Sport, September 1981, pp. 61-65.
Sports Illustrated, September 14, 1981, p. 40; November 22, 1993, pp. 48-52; September 15, 1997, p. 56; December 8, 1997, p. 24.
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