Tom Leyden's tribute to Emanuel Steward: 11/13/12

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The family of Emanuel Steward asked Tom Leyden to speak at the famed boxing trainer's memorial service.

Below is a transcript of Tom's tribute:

Welcome to all of you from around the world who have joined us in our city to celebrate one of our crown jewels, Emanuel Steward.  

I stand before you today humbled and incredibly honored that the Steward family invited me to share a few words before this very distinguished crowd, truly a living and breathing Boxing Hall of Fame.

Emanuel Steward is what you wish everybody would be - dedicated, loving, professional, expert, personal.   

His dedication to his beloved sport of boxing was outweighed only by his dedication to our city and to his beloved fighters at the Kronk gym.

Emanuel Steward made millions over the years, but so much of that - his own money - was put right back into the infrastructure he nurtured, the young people he embraced as his own, lifting their spirits and cultivating their talents in ways many of them never knew possible.

As a journalist, as I am, it's your duty, when you witness someone acting in such a selfless manner, to shine a light on him.  It's your responsibility to share your pulpit, open your airwaves and let his effortless brilliance shine.  

I considered Emanuel to be an incredible resource of knowledge and perspective on a sport I admittedly don't follow with the same passion as many others do.  

But he made me appreciate and respect the passion of his fighters, and so much of that passion exceeded what transpired between the ropes, dancing on the canvas in three minute rounds.  

It was a passion to live a better life - a life of purpose and focus.  And that's what you had to respect.  The dual purpose of boxing's discipline.  

As much as I considered Emanuel a resource, I considered him an incredible friend.  He was always, ALWAYS, good to us at Channel 7.  For more than three decades with Don Shane, Dave LewAllen and Jay Berry through today with me at the helm.  

In July, Emanuel celebrated his 68th birthday - on July 7.  He joined me the next day.  The night before, he was in Switzerland, in Wladimir's corner as he defended his heavyweight title yet again.  

Less than 24 hours later, he was in our studio, talking boxing and promoting one of his up-and-comers.   

I watched a replay of that interview last night.  It was the last time we spoke on our set.

That day, we happened to purchase a birthday cake and with his sister Diane, we sang 'Happy Birthday' in our sports office.   It's a memory that certainly carries more weight now with Emanuel gone, but weren't we lucky to be with him on his final birthday.

Detroit needs 1,000 Emanuel Stewards, but the unfortunate truth is we may never see another one like him.

He was the most worldly person I ever met, mentoring champions from across the globe, carving out classic chapters in boxing history, and when each final decision was announced, he left behind the screaming crowds, threw on that Kronk tee-shirt with the cut off sleeves, slipped on the mitts and went to work with an amateur.

Always with an eye on the future.  

Our future, perhaps, a little worse off without Emanuel in it, but weren't we blessed to share in his greatness?

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