Whilst channel surfing between monotonous Europa League football and watching a clearly bemused couple winning such luxury items as a ship in a bottle and a nest of tables on Bullseye, the audible alert tone of breaking news emanating from my mobile phone instantly caught my attention.
After I read the story, I wished I had it on silent. The news in front of me was that of the passing of legendary boxing trainer Emanuel “Manny” Steward. Manny’s death at the tender age of 68 years old takes away a true character of the boxing industry, and leaves us boxing aficionados feeling shell-shocked.
Emanuel’s legacy is well known, leaving behind a who’s who of boxers he turned into world champions: Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya, Wladimir Klitschko, Evander Holyfield and enigmatic Prince Naseem Hamed to name but a few.
My overriding memory of Steward’s training career was seeing old footage of how he turned Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns into a popular household warrior who could hold his own against some of the industry’s greatest boxers, including the infamous “The War” against Marvin Haggler; a contest still regarded as one of the best fights of all time to this day.
The quiet man like able man of boxing didn’t spend too much time in front of a microphone, blending into the background as promoters and boxers traded verbal insults at Pre-fight press conferences.
He did his best work off camera, in the gym…this is where he felt at home and established his reputation as one of the best trainers of all time. I remember seeing a rare interview with him on ITV4 regarding the Gerald McClellan tragedy.
Gerald McClellan was a man who he treated like a son and you could tell that situation still resonated with him over 15 years on. Manny softly stated that if he was in the Gerald’s corner his sickening injury could have been averted. His words brought a tear to my eye.
This was Emanuel Steward, a true gentleman who wore his massive heart on his sleeve.
In era when boxing is suffering a terrible image problem, guys like Emanuel were beacons of light, men of pride and honour. As the plaudits pour in across the world from the boxing family and beyond, I will leave the last word to the current undisputed Heavyweight champion, and Manny’s last project, to give his own personal view on the Emanuel Steward.
"Boxing has suffered a tremendous loss, rest in peace Emanuel. You will be greatly missed." - Wladimir Klitschko