A Master Steward Moves On

By David Matthew on October 26, 2012
A Master Steward Moves On
Emanuel Steward is the Kronk scientist who built a house of boxing and humanity in Detroit.

Who could ever forget Manny Steward racing to the ring in a cut-off Kronk shirt—still vascular and in great shape well into his 60s?

•    This past Saturday night provided a healthy dose of boxing bonanza at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Whether it was the scintillating left hooks and power combinations of Kid Chocolate Quillin, the 11th round power surge from Cano, the inevitable and unsightly fall of Erik Morales, the unbelievably resilient spirit of Hassan N’Dam, or the continued meteoric ascent of Danny Garcia, aficionados were treated to a myriad of styles and characters as elite boxing returned to Brooklyn.

•    “Every king has his reign, and then he dies.” (Prometheus) —While many have been making the argument that Erik “El Terrible” Morales should have retired years ago and remained retired, he has produced some thrilling moments in the winter of his career. That said, watching his predictable slaughter Saturday night was not appetizing. Not only is Morales riding in a boxing vehicle with an inordinate amount of mileage on it, but he reportedly cut corners and was short on discipline in his physical preparation for the fight, which led to his plug being pulled out the socket as he was thumped into an unconscious state while still on his feet, product of the now patented Danny Garcia left hook. The left hook which conquered Amir Khan has now retired Morales, and that will (hopefully) be our last image of El Terrible in the ring. Morales is a made man in the Science—a living legend, and highly revered warrior amongst almost everyone who has had the privilege to watch him fight. That said, enough is enough. Here’s to El Terrible with a TruSparta Salute wishing him a happy and healthy life after boxing.

•    As for Danny Garcia, his story is intriguing, both in its unpredictability and its passion. After his first fight with Morales, few (if any) felt that he had the goods to climb to the top of his division in such emphatic fashion. In analyzing Garcia’s ascent, he is an interesting fighter in dynamic: He does everything very well. He fights off a sturdy base, has a whipping no-look left hook that has devastating consequences if it lands. He fights in a controlled, patient pace. He controls distance and possesses an ever-increasing Ring IQ that has found him outmaneuvering the lightning-speed Khan and destroying the expired Morales. How far can his ascent climb? That answer is the reason why boxing is the theater of unexpected, and Garcia has proven to be premier entertainment with his own unique fusion of temperance and fire.

•    What can you say about Manny Steward that hasn’t already been said? He is as loved as just about anyone in the world of boxing, and rightfully so. Who could ever forget Manny Steward racing to the ring in a cut-off Kronk shirt—still vascular and in great shape well into his 60s? How could anyone ever forget the warmth of that signature Steward smile, animated with an undying passion for the sport of boxing—and matched with the always pleasant warmth of his humanity? You rarely heard Steward say a negative word about a fighter, always selecting to focus on the optimistic elements to any fight/situation. Who could forget how Steward embraced Tyson after his fighter (Lewis) destroyed Iron Mike, yet Emanuel eased the pain with a genuine in-ring tribute to Tyson in the post-fight interview exclaiming that Tyson was the most thrilling fighter he’s ever seen. Whether it was his defining relationship with Thomas Hearns, his uncanny ability to sculpt Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko into cerebral pugilist titans who have dominated the heavyweight division for almost two decades, or his wise-elder stint with HBO providing fight fans with insider insight and golden stories, Steward will be greatly missed. Yet—despite his glittery accolades and achievements at the top of the sport—perhaps it was his commitment to the bottom/roots of the sport that shone the brightest. Countless young fighters were lifted off of the streets, into the loving tutelage of Steward’s boxing science and life instruction. That is the legacy of Emanuel Steward, the Kronk scientist who built a house of boxing and humanity that benefitted more names than can be listed. When I had the honor of meeting Steward in Los Angeles less than a year ago at the Hopkins-Dawson I fight, I was floored by his charisma and generosity in speaking to me, a young writer/analyst whom he easily could’ve brushed off with an excuse about not having time. Instead, we engaged in a 30-minute discussion covering several boxing topics, including who hits harder—Wladimir or Vitali—who his favorite young fighters are—and even excitingly showing me photos/video clips of young fighters to look out for. That brief experience with Steward will live in eternity with me, and knowing that this was just a split-second glimmer into the influence Steward effectuated all across the planet gives me comfort—knowing that his contribution to the sport—and to humanity—will live forever, even if the bodily shell that enveloped his spirit has left us.

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  1. the thresher 05:49am, 10/30/2012

    Jim Lampley:

    “He’s going to be most known as one of the greatest trainers in the history of the sport. That’s the central element of his identity. He’s my best friend and it’s on a personal level I have the most appreciation for him. But he is the man who groomed Thomas Hearns and who built an iconic inner city gym in the working class capital of America.

    “What tells you a lot about the man he was is that he made a tremendous mark in his early days training what one would think was his natural constituency, black American fighters in the middle weight classes. But then he moved on and trained an English heavyweight champion, a Ukrainian heavyweight champion and an Irish middleweight. He was just spectacular.”

  2. Brian 06:57am, 10/27/2012

    Suh suh SUPERB!!!!

  3. the thresher 05:17am, 10/27/2012

    Fine piece David.

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