- (Photo: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch/Files)
Celebrated boxing trainer Emanuel Steward died at age 68 on Thursday, sparking international mourning.
He died in a Chicago-area hospital of an undisclosed illness. His sister, Diane Steward-Jones, recently told the Detroit Free Press that the boxing legend had undergone surgery for diverticulitis, which affects the large intestine.
Formerly a boxer, Steward went on to become one of the top trainers in the sport, coaching 41 world champions.
Born in Bottom Creek, West Virginia, Steward later moved to Detroit, Michigan where he began an amateur boxing career. After a successful career of his own, the boxer became interested in other amateur fighters.
Some of the boxing greats who trained with Steward included Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, Thomas Hearns, and Tony Tucker.
Steward is a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame as well as International Boxing Hall of Fame. He became a commentator for HBO Boxing, where he worked as an analyst for 11 years.
HBO Sports' Ken Hershman released a statement following the news of Steward's death, saying: "For more than a decade, Manny was a respected colleague who taught us so much not only about the sweet science but also about friendship and loyalty."
"His energy, enthusiasm and bright smile were a constant presence," Hershman continued. "Ten bells do not seem enough to mourn his passing. His contributions to the sport and to HBO will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
His trainee, boxing champion Klitschko, released a statement mourning Steward's passing.
"It is not often that a person in any line of work gets a chance to work with a legend, well I was privileged enough to work with one for almost a decade," said the boxer. "I will miss our time together. The long talks about boxing, the world, and life itself. Most of all I will miss our friendship."
Lennox Lewis also released a statement about his "long time friend, mentor, and trainer Emanuel Steward."
"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," Lennox's statement said in part.
On Twitter, hundreds of users posted tributes to Steward on Friday following the news of his death.
Radio host Peter Rosenberg posted, "oh man… RIP Emanuel Steward.. what a great trainer, commentator, and true boxing enthusiast."
"RIP Emanuel Steward #Detroit #Kronk He was a good friend and a great soul," wrote rapper MC Hammer. "Boxing will miss him."
Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight champion George Foreman wrote: "Emanuel Steward will long be remembered. Thanks HBO, you never left Manny."
Steward was also well known for his charity work in Detroit where he helped endangered youths access education.