NFLer-turned-boxer Zbikowski hires Hall of Fame trainer Steward
Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski is working with famed trainer Emanuel Steward
Steward will be in Zbikowski's corner starting with Saturday's fight in Atlantic City
The longtime amateur is re-discovering boxing during the NFL's work stoppage
Baltimore Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski has hired Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward, Steward told SI.com. Steward will work Zbikowski's corner when Zbikowski fights on the undercard of the Yuri Gamboa-Jorge Solis featherweight title fight Saturday night in Atlantic City.
Zbikowski (2-0) and Steward first met in 1998, when Steward was training Lennox Lewis for his heavyweight title defense against Shannon Briggs. A then-13-year old Zbikowski wandered into Steward's gym in Miami and asked to take a picture with the veteran trainer. They reconnected last month when Zbikowski approached Steward in Las Vegas, where Steward was training Miguel Cotto.
"We did some work on the pads," Steward said. "He has such beautiful balance. He has a great natural rhythm and he's always in position when he is punching. He doesn't box like a football player. He boxes like a boxer."
Steward recalls watching a video of Zbikowski at the final press conference for Cotto's fight with Ricardo Mayorga. Zbikowski defeated Richard Bryant in a first-round knockout on the undercard of that fight.
"I forgot who he was," Steward said. "I just remember looking at the screen and seeing this guy slipping and sliding, dancing around. It was beautiful. Miguel leaned over and told me that was the guy who was working out with us."
Steward says Zbikowski, who has committed to boxing during the NFL lockout, will train with him at the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit. Steward says he would like to use Zbikowski as a sparring partner for former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who will begin training soon for his May 21 fight against Adrian Diaconu.
"He told me boxing was his first love," Steward said. "I don't know where this is going to go right now but he seems committed to it."