Alex Stewart, a heavyweight contender who fought Mike Tyson and nearly beat George Foreman, has died. He was 52.
Stewart died last week after being rushed to a hospital in Mount Vernon in Westchester County, said Mike Gilberg, a close friend of the former fighter. He had a blood clot in his lung, Gilberg said.
“One day he wasn’t feeling good, the next this happened,” Gilberg said.
Stewart fought in a golden time for heavyweight boxing, and he fought almost all the big names of his time. A perennial contender, he was never able to win the big fights of his career but had a reputation as a smart and tough fighter.
Stewart lost twice to Evander Holyfield, and was knocked out in the first round of his December 1990 fight with Tyson. But it was his April 1992 fight with Foreman in Las Vegas that was the highlight of his career.
Foreman was in the middle of a comeback that he would cap two years later by knocking out Michael Moorer to become the oldest man to win the heavyweight championship at the age of 45 when he met Stewart in a scheduled 10-round bout.
Foreman knocked Stewart down twice in the second round and was battering him in the third, when Foreman motioned to referee Richard Steele to stop the fight. But Steele let it continue, and Stewart began pummeling Foreman around the ring.
“I thought I had him in the third round but the referee let it go on,” Foreman said. “I didn’t want to hurt the kid and now the kid hurt me.”
Stewart would lose a controversial majority decision, but it was Foreman who looked like loser after the fight with his face hidden behind large sunglasses.
“Was that a fight or was that a fight?” Stewart asked reporters afterward.
Stewart lost his second fight to Holyfield the next year, then spent the remainder of his career mostly as an opponent for younger fighters to measure themselves against. He retired with a record of 43-10 with 40 knockouts after losing his last fight in 1999 to Jorge Luis Gonzalez by second round knockout.
Stewart was born in London and raised in Jamaica and fought for Jamaica in the 1984 Olympics before turning pro.
Gilberg said after retiring from boxing Stewart was a driver for a liquor distributor in the metropolitan area, and later worked in a factory making boxes for the same company.
Gilberg said the fighter is survived by his wife, Angella, and a daughter, Ajay-Tenille. Services will be held Nov. 29 at the Pelham Funeral Home in Pelham.