By: Sean Crose
It’s hard to imagine coming up with a top five list of the greatest trainers in boxing history and not having Emanuel Steward appear among that handful of elites. So prominent was the Detroit based master that his passing in 2012 shook the fight world. Top names ranging from Thomas Hearns to Lennox Lewis to Wladimir Klitschko all turned to Steward for guidance, and that’s just to name a few. Even though Steward is gone, his name lives on, not only in boxing history, but in the form of one SugarHill Steward, Emanuel’s nephew, now himself a trainer to be reckoned with.
As talkSport points out, the latest Steward of note was named Javan “Sugar” Hill until quite recently. “He changed his name officially last year,” the outlet reports, “explaining that Manny was a father to him.” Steward’s life has recently changed in other ways, as well. For he is currently training Tyson Fury, the individual many claim is the lineal heavyweight champion of the world – the man who beat the man who beat the man, tracing all the way back to at least the reign of John L Sullivan in the 1880s-1890’s. What’s more, Fury’s rematch with ferocious WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder this weekend at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in one of the most anticipated bouts in years.
During a recent conference call to promote Saturday’s match, I asked Fury about teaming up with the younger Steward . The colorful Englishman was effusive in his praise: “That’s one of the best decisions I ever made,” he said of partnering with Steward. Although Ben Davis led Fury to a draw in his famous first match with Wilder, Fury was looking for something different the second time around. “I had a good defensive coach in Ben Davis,” Fury explained. “I needed an aggressive trainer.”
Having worked at Emanuel Steward’s famed Kronk gym previously, SugarHill was someone the bombastic heavyweight was already familiar with. “I knew we got on well,” Fury said of his relationship with the man who would become his trainer. “That’s why I brought him in.” Fury is clearly impressed with the work Steward has done with him, so impressed that he claims he’s going to knock Wilder out this weekend. That may be all talk, of course, but it’s worth keeping in mind the Steward family is known for giving the world fighters who can take down walls with their fists.
And, while Emanuel Steward will always be an inspiration to his nephew, Fury himself makes it clear he was impacted by the man, as well. “It wasn’t just physical where he was great,” Fury told talkSport of the late trainer. “He was great at communicating with a fighter and talking over fights.”
SugarHill certainly has big shoes to fill – not that he isn’t rising to the occasion.