Steward hailed by Queen of Soul and boxing royalty

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Steward was an accomplished amateur boxer who chose to become a coach in the ring, starting in 1971 with a part-time position at Kronk for $35 per week.

Hearns put the gym _ and the trainer affectionately called Manny _ on the map. Hearns was the first man to win titles in four divisions and he won five overall.

The boxer known as Hitman lost some of his most famous bouts. Hearns was knocked out in the 14th round by Leonard in 1981 in what Steward later said that was the most painful experience of his life and was on the short end of a three-round fight with Marvin Hagler in 1985 that is considered one of the best bouts in history.

On an emotional day, which started in the morning with family, close friends and former fighters gathering at two homes Steward owned, Hearns was so overcome with emotion when he stepped up to the pulpit that he had to step back, wipe tears off his cheeks and gather himself.

“If it wasn’t for Emanuel Steward, it would be very difficult to be where I am today,” Hearns said. “He wasn’t just a trainer to me, he was like a dad.”

Jones was trained by his father, and he told the AP he wished his mother hadn’t talked him out of hiring Steward to be his trainer when he turned pro.

When Jones got behind the microphone at the memorial, he compared Steward to Michael Jordan and Barry Sanders _ one-of-a-kind talents that can’t be replaced _ and said he has always carried a red-and-yellow Kronk Gym bag to every fight.

“There was no other gym on the planet that produced that much talent,” he said. “I may not be a Kronk fighter by contact, but by heart I am.”

Steward suffered cardiac arrest while he was hospitalized near Chicago last month, and it proved too much to overcome as he also fought cancer. Just three days after retaining his three heavyweight titles in Germany, Klitschko traveled to Detroit with fresh bruises and cuts on his face to honor Steward, his trainer and friend.

Emanuel Steward lives in the hearts of each of us,” he said. “Not just the people present in this room _ the people around the world.”

Klitschko’s new trainer is fellow heavyweight Johnathon Banks, a Detroit native who was trained by Steward. When Banks arrived at Steward’s house on Tuesday, Sylvia Steward-Williams hugged him and shared four words that left him in awe.

“It’s your time now,” the trainer’s eldest daughter whispered in his ear.

“I never expected that to come out of her mouth, especially to me,” he said softly. “But those are shoes that will never be filled. There’s no replacement for Emanuel. I’m just pouring water on the seed he already planted.”

___

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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