5 Fighters Who Owe a Debt of Gratitude to Trainer Manny Steward

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistJuly 8, 2015

5 Fighters Who Owe a Debt of Gratitude to Trainer Manny Steward

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The late, great Emanuel Steward would have turned 71 on July 7 in 2015.

    Born in Bottom Creak, West Virginia, but raised in Detroit, he enjoyed a successful amateur career that included winning a National Golden Gloves title as a bantamweight.

    However, Steward never turned pro, instead heading out to work to provide for his family.

    While his days of fighting in the ring were done, he would go on to build a stellar reputation as one of the best trainers in the business.

    He worked with some truly great boxers in his career as well as turning his hand to stints in the media as a commentator for HBO.

    Steward passed away on October 25 in 2012, at the age of 68, from complications after surgery to treat diverticulosis, per the obituary written by John Rawling for the Guardian.

    To mark his achievements, here are five boxers who benefited greatly from working with the man known as Manny.

Thomas Hearns

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    Thomas Hearns told RingTV.com about his longtime trainer: "Emanuel Steward to me, he was a man that changed my life. He helped me to become the man that I've become today."

    The Hitman turned up to the gym as a skinny teenage boy but would go on to become the first fighter to win world titles at four different weights.

    His legacy is helped by being around in an era when there were so many world-class opponents to take on—"Sugar" Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran, to name three of the biggest.

    Steward took Hearns' amateur pedigree and added power—of his 61 wins, 48 came by way of knockout.

Dennis Andries

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    Dennis Andries lost his WBC light heavyweight title to one of Steward's most famous fighters, Hearns, in 1987.

    He turned to the man who had helped bring about his downfall to change things for the better, and the pair engineered a route back to the top.

    The Hackney Rock—who moved to Detroit to work out of the Kronk Gym—would become WBC champion again when he defeated Jeff Harding in 1990.

    Andries would lose a rematch against Harding the following year, though that wasn't the end of the line.

    The Guyana-born boxer carried on until 1996, after Johnny Nelson beat him for the vacant British cruiserweight crown in his last bout. He finished with a career record of 49-14-2 (30 KOs).

Lennox Lewis

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    Simon Bruty/Getty Images

    Lennox Lewis began working with Steward after losing his WBC title to Oliver McCall in 1994.

    The partnership helped the heavyweight become a world champion again, gaining revenge over McCall in 1997 to win back the belt he had lost.

    Lewis went on to add the IBF and WBA straps by beating Evander Holyfield at the second attempt.

    Steward worked with the British boxer right through to his retirement, with Lewis deciding to hang up his gloves after getting the better of Vitali Klitschko in 2003.

    After learning of Steward's death, Lewis wrote on his official website (h/t the Telegraph): "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."

Wladimir Klitschko

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    Wladimir Klitschko is the king of the heavyweight division right now, holding the WBA, IBF and WBO belts.

    However, things in the Ukrainian's career could have taken a different path had he not teamed up with Steward.

    The partnership suffered a shaky start when the veteran trainer saw his new man lose to Lamon Brewster in his bid to become a world champion again.

    Dr. Steelhammer, though, has not lost since. Steward helped repair his fragile confidence and put him on course to dominate the division.

    Klitschko told Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports that the key to his relationship with the trainer was communication: "We talked about boxing and we talked about life, because life is like boxing. There are certain things that are comparable and one of them is life and the sport of boxing."

Andy Lee

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Andy Lee's relationship with Steward was more than just a fighter-trainer bond.

    The Irishman teamed up with the American when he turned professional. When he moved to the United States to start his career in 2006, Steward took him into his home.

    The American said of the middleweight, per Dan Rafael of ESPN: "I've never been this close to any fighter, including Tommy [Hearns]. It's more personal with Andy than any other fighter I've had."

    Sadly, he did not get to see Lee go on to become a world champion before passing away, as Irish stopped Matt Korobov inside six rounds in December 2014 to collect the vacant WBO belt.

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