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Boxing trainer Emanuel Steward passed away Thursday in a Chicago hospital at the age of 68.
Steward was hospitalized after undergoing stomach surgery for diverticulitis at a Chicago-area hospital last month. Members of the boxing community gathered for a prayer vigil in Walled Lake, Mich. on Sept. 23rd.
Often called the Godfather of Detroit boxing, Steward became a legend for training championship boxers like Lennox Lewis, Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko. He was also a popular ringside commentator for HBO.
"There are no adequate words to describe the enormous degree of sadness and loss we feel at HBO Sports with the tragic passing of Manny Steward," HBO Sports president Ken Hershman told ESPN. "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. 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."
Lennox Lewis was devastated by the news. He issued an emotional statement on his website.
I’m completely devastated by the passing of my long time friend, mentor and trainer Emanuel “Manny” Steward. Manny has helped me get through some of the biggest fights in my career and I only regret that I couldn’t return the favour and see him through his biggest fight.
We’ve maintained a close relationship and the last time we spoke he seemed his usual upbeat self so it was very disturbing to hear about his illness and rapid decline. It is with a heavy heart that realization of what I hoped were just rumors are now in fact true. Manny always told me I was the best, but the truth is, HE was the best and I’m grateful, privileged and honoured to be counted among his many historic successes.
This has been a very tragic year for the boxing world, but today we’ve truly lost one of it’s crown jewels. Manny was giving, selfless, compassionate and stern. He always gave back to the community and never forgot where he came from. He was an institution unto himself and I’m proud to have had him in my corner for so many years.
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. I’ll miss his smile, his frank no holds barred truthfulness and our discussions on boxing and life. My prayers and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time.
Other notable fighters Steward trained at one time or another include Mike McCallum, Jimmy Paul, Michael Moorer, Dennis Andries, Milton McCrory, Duane Thomas, Gerald McClellan, Evander Holyfield, Oliver McCall, John David Jackson, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Oscar De La Hoya, Naseem Hamed, Jermaine Taylor, Chad Dawson, Miguel Cotto, and Cornelius "K9" Bundrage.
Klitschko has released a statement saying, “Boxing has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Emanuel Steward.”
Emanual's sister told TMZ that Steward passed away at 2:46pm with his family and chief doctor surrounding him
"He was at peace and in no pain," she said. "I deeply miss my brother but am overjoyed that he willingly went with God this afternoon. Thank you for your prayers and concern."
So far no cause of death has been released.