According to the Detroit Free Press, boxing icon Emanuel Steward died today, his sister, Diane Steward-Jones, told the Free Press.
Steward, who had been in a Chicago-area hospital for several weeks after undergoing surgery for what was termed diverticulitis, died at 2:46 p.m. Detroit time, Steward-Jones said. He was 68.
Steward-Jones, who handled business and public relations for Steward, said she and several family members were by his side.
“He has passed – he’s gone home,” Steward-Jones said by phone. “He was in no pain, and we sang to him, as well as did the doctors present. He had loved ones around him.”
Steward-Jones said even toward the end her brother tried to recruit male nurses and other medical staff to box for him.
“They loved him,” Steward-Jones said. “He’d tell them to lose some weight and fight for him.”
Steward-Jones said she was trying to stay busy by tidying up Steward’s hospital room.
“He gave it his all,” she said. “But he’s been called away now.”
Steward nurtured and guided the likes of Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty and Milton McCrory to world titles in the 1980s at the Kronk Gym on McGraw in Detroit.
Born in Bottom Creek, W.Va., Steward at age 12 moved with his mother to Detroit, where he became a street-smart kid with a short fuse and quick fists.
Steward, who worked for years as an HBO color boxing commentator, was relentless in his charity work around Detroit, establishing the Kronk Gym Foundation to help endangered young boys and girls get an education and shot at a normal life.
Earlier in the day, Frank Garza, a leading Michigan fight referee and close friend of Steward’s, said: “Emanuel was Mr. Boxing in Detroit. He was like Gordie Howe is to Detroit hockey and Al Kaline to Detroit baseball.
“He loved to live and he loved to give. He was a down-to-earth guy when you were with him. As a trainer, he was a brilliant strategist. If you ever wanted to win a fight, you just listened to his advice.”