Interview: Emanuel Steward Explains Cotto’s Unusual But Enormous Charisma
At a recent Miguel Cotto gym workout I asked his trainer Emanuel Steward what he has learned about the quiet and humble Puerto Rican three-time champion which he did not previously know since starting to work with him so closely…
Emanuel Steward: “Believe it or not, he’s actually what he is all the times I interviewed him with HBO. Extremely honest, and he also thinks a lot, very careful, very honest about his strong points, weak points, very willing to accept criticism. And very bashful. A lot of times, he shies away from things, interviews. He’s very bashful. And he’s very into his family. His whole comfort zone is when he’s with his family. I never saw any boxer be like that, his mother, his family here. And we’re in an elevator somewhere, he just kisses his mother and hugs her, his kids, I never saw someone so family oriented. And normally I don’t let wives and people to camp but that is his energy. And he’s really happy with them.”
After Miguel answered questions from the media while he was sitting on the ring apron, he got up and walked over to his son Miguel who was standing on the apron and leaning against the corner pole. The father went to hug his son and buried his head in his son’s chest and just paused there for a few moments. Young son, who is about five, was the image of strength,standing strong, comforting the tired father who then went to proceed with his boxing work.
“Another thing that surprised me is I never, never, never realized how much the public likes him, ” said Steward. “When I became involved with him, I had some many friends of mine or other fighters, girlfriends or wives or sons, (say) Oh my God, Miguel Cotto is my favorite fighter. And I’m like, what? Because you never hear it too much. And I think, just the last fight with Yuri Foreman, one of the highest rated shows of the year, and here’s a guy coming off two beatdowns to Margarito and Pacquiao, and still comes back and Yuri Foreman wasn’t no lame opponent, and still has an unbelievable audience. And what it showed to me was that people don’t forget Cotto. It’s really strange his charisma because he’s so bashful. And he’s humble and I think those factors became his big attraction.”
“Where a lot of fighters get it from trash talking. I have never seen a fighter that is so humble and so quiet, that people love him. And you can see it in the crowd. And never ever – when he has all the rights to, complain about the Margarito gloves and no one ever went to the dressing room to even watch, say that was my fault, I have no complaints. Those qualities are what have made him really popular with fans.”
“Going to the fight with Foreman, people asked, is he psychologically? No, he was just happy. I was a nervous wreck because the whole fight was about the homecoming of the Jewish kid, the show is built around that. Showing him coming from his hotel and all the time and everything. And when we get to the arena (Yankee Stadium) I said, Miguel, I can’t fix it but you can put your music in your ears and listen to your salsa instead of all the horns and stuff they’re gonna be playing. And Miguel said, You don’t have to do all of that Steward. He just came out and said, No that’s not necessary. They can do all of that stuff they want. But when they leave, he belong to me. I mean, he’s just that confident. With an undefeated – I mean the show was all Foreman. Then with all the commotion when the fight stopped then started, he just – I was about to get in the ring – he said to me, Steward, just get on out I’m gonna knock him out anyway. That was just his confidence level, was so much before the fight even. He’s out with the crowd, mingling, Coming in, kiss his mom. Very seldom you come across a person so confident, especially after the tough fights that he had. And against an undefeated fighter. “
“I think his humbleness is his attraction that people like. And I have never saw that in anyone. And I think that’s a part of the attraction with Manny Pacquiao too. When you look at popularity with fans, I would have to say Pacquiao and Miguel is up there, with just popularity. Basically, Mayweather has made his fame off of 24/7, not so much from great, exciting fights. And also fighting fighters who are the big attractions themselves. Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao make their names on being exciting performers, fight anyone. And I think the same humbleness of Manny – and being very respectful of opponents – that’s good to see that today, being humble and being honest. And being accomodating and available to fans is an attraction that is appreciated compared today to other athletes and fighters.”