Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Hall of Fame boxing trainer Emanuel Steward, who worked with multiple world champions, including fellow inductees Lennox Lewis and Thomas Hearns, died Thursday at age 68.
A native of West Virginia, Steward moved to Detroit as a child and ultimately made a name for himself as a trainer at the Kronk Gym. Hilmer Kenty became his first world champion there in March 1980 and was followed a few months later by Hearns, the power-punching welterweight who wound up with titles in six weight classes from 147 to 190 pounds.
Steward later worked with fighters outside of Detroit and was credited with raising the profile of Lewis, who held the IBO and WBC versions of the heavyweight championship when he retired in 2003. Since 2004, Steward had worked with Ukrainian heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko, who currently holds the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO crowns and will defend them next month in Germany.
He'd also developed a following for his work as a boxing analyst for HBO.
Word of Steward's condition spread rapidly when it was announced this week that he'd not work Klitschko's corner for the November fight, and would instead be replaced by longtime Klitschko sparring partner and former cruiserweight champion Johnathon Banks.
Banks tweeted early Thursday morning that Steward had died and Klitschko later released a statement noting his death, but subsequent statements by the family that he was still alive led the multiple retractions from media outlets that had gone with the initial information.
The family confirmed later in the day that he had indeed died, with his sister, Diane Steward-Jones, saying, "(He) fought harder than Hagler and Hearns."