Emanuel Steward can no longer physically stand among the pugilists, but he still sits atop the boxing Olympus as king. His impact on the sport doesn't rival other trainers—it rivals the legends who stood inside the ring.
Taking a look back across his career provides all the evidence one needs to support the above statement. Just like Muhammad Ali, Steward truly was the greatest.
He Danced Himself
Critics and trainers. It's easy to dismiss their proclamations or chiding at times because they haven't been there. They don't "get it."
None of Steward's fighters got the chance to give him that type of lip. Steward stood inside the ring and traded blows in the amateur ranks.
And he did so well. During his time as a fighter, he battled his way to a 94-3 record and a 1963 Golden Gloves championship.
His Boys Danced on the Biggest Stage
There are obviously plenty of worthy legends strewn across all the weight classes of boxing, but the real moneymakers (sorry, Floyd) were the big boys.
Steward took his game to the top level of the boxing world and brought home championships. Among his heavyweight champions were Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.
Winning is great. Winning at the premier level where the stiffest competition resides is legendary.
Versatility and Longevity
Don't misunderstand the words above to dismiss the other levels of boxing. The champions across the boxing spectrum are what provides the depth to this argument.
For instance, he took Tommy Hearns from a swift boxer to a bruising basher. But that wasn't the only champion that he sculpted.
Steward led 41 world champion boxers and his fighters hold an astonishing 34-2-1 record in championship bouts. The ability to be so successful in the most pressurized of situations is another mark of his greatness.
Aside from training the different styles and classes of boxers, there is the length of his career. His first champ raised his belt in 1980 and his last project, the aforementioned Klitschko, has been reigning supreme for the past decade.
As Wood Radio's News Director Paul Cicchini put it, "[h]e understood boxing and its evolution."
Achieving success is wonderful. Sustaining success is remarkable.
Steward led many fighters to the promised land and left a mark on even more lives. He was forced out of the sport due to an undefeated opponent, but he will always remain in boxing's good graces.
When Steward spoke, his opinions carried weight and were taken into account. Out of anything that a man can achieve, the ability to be heard and actually listened to is too often overlooked.
Rest in peace, Mr. Steward. The impact of your career will continue on for generations to come.