Lou Duva Evander Holyfield
Lou Duva tends to Evander Holyfield as sits in his corner during the fight against Riddick Bowe in Las Vegas, Nevada, 13 November 1992Getty

Lou Duva, the Hall of Fame boxing manager who handled the careers of Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, has died aged 94.

The legendary cornerman died of natural causes at a hospital in Paterson, New Jersey, on Wednesday (8 March), according to a statement released by his family.

Duva spent over 70 years in his sport and managed 19 champions during his reign.

In addition to managing Holyfield and Lewis, he also handled boxing greats including Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and Mark Breland. Duva was enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998, in addition to being awarded several boxing honours through his lifetime.

However, those who paid tribute to him said he will be best remembered for his colourful character and down-to-earth persona.

Henry Hascup, the president of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, knew Duva for almost 60 years.

"Lou always made me feel like I was a special person," he told AFP.

"He was a great story teller who kept everyone captivated with his stories. He was an icon in the sport of boxing, who held every role there was in the sport. I told him once that the only role he didn't play was ring girl.

"He was a great cheerleader. You knew when he was in a boxer's corner, psyching that guy up. You could hear him. It's a tremendous loss to the sport of boxing."

Lou DiBella was an executive at the TV channel HBO Sports and got to know Duva immediately after graduating from Harvard Business School.

"I really was a little kid when I started at HBO," DiBella told Yahoo Sports. "I was in my twenties and I would talk to that guy every day. He was like your favourite uncle.

"He had great stories and could make you laugh, but he cared about people and he was always there for you.

"He was boxing's Yogi Berra. He was beloved and was recognised wherever he'd go. I have so many great memories of times with him.

"In those days, no matter what side of the ring you sat on, when you were on the road, everyone, the writers, the promoters, the trainers from all sides, got together and ate and told stories and had a few drinks and a hell of a lot of laughs. And Lou was in the middle of so many of the good times and so many of the stories."