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Thursday, October 25, 2012

FIGHTS: salutes Jeff Blatnick and Emanuel Steward

by Bowie Ibarra salutes two great contributors to the combat sport world.

Jeff Blatnick (July 26, 1957 – October 24, 2012) is known to the hardcore MMA fans as one of the early announcers for UFC during the SEG/Semaphore Art Davie era.  But it's important to remember he was more than that.  Jeff also won gold for the US as a Heavyweight Olympic wrestler during the '84 Olympics.

People try to discount that victory because the Russians were conspicuously absent for political Cold War reasons.  Those people can STFU because Jeff showed up to play after having had medical procedures on his spleen and appendix after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  And he went in there and took the gold.

RIP Jeff Blatnick

Emanuel Steward was one of boxing's most notable trainers.  Moving from Virginia to Detroit, Steward eventually found his way to Kronk Gym after a successful run as an amateur boxer.  At the gym, he became a trainer, with one of his most notable proteges being Tommy Hearns.

Appropriately enough, Emanuel was one of the trainers of an early UFC fighter.  Canadian grappler Dave Benetau reached out to him for boxing training, which Steward gladly provided, giving Benatau two good runs in the UFC using pretty solid and crisp hand techniques for UFC at the time.  Ask Oleg Taktarov.

Thank you for your contributions to boxing, Emanuel.  Your legacy lives on through those you trained.



Bowie V. Ibarra is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuester.  His combat sports themed book,Pit Fighters: Baptism by Fire , features a Scottish boxer who transitions to mixed martial arts competition.

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