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Murray Wilson was 72 years old

Murray Wilson, who managed Yuri Foreman to a junior middleweight world title, died of an apparent heart attack at his New York office Wednesday night. He was 72.

Foreman was the only fighter Wilson managed. He had made his living in the restaurant business as owner of Campagnola, a popular Upper East Side Italian eatery.

But Wilson, a longtime boxing fan, had read a 2004 New York Times article about Foreman -- an Orthodox Jew and aspiring rabbi who balanced his studies with his boxing career -- and became interested in him.

Not long after reading the article, Wilson met Foreman through Bruce Silverglade, owner of Brooklyn's famed Gleason's Gym. Eventually, Wilson bought Foreman's contract from manager Gary Gittelsohn and took over his career.

"That's how we got to know each other," Foreman said Wednesday night. "We met and had instant chemistry. He was old school. He was like a dad to me. I had total trust in him. I didn't think of our relationship as business. He was like family. He treated me like I was his son. When my son, Lev Micah, was born in August, I gave him the greatest honor to hold him at his bris."

Wilson guided Foreman to a 154-pound title shot against Daniel Santos last November, and Foreman won a lopsided decision on the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto undercard in Las Vegas.

Wilson was overjoyed by the victory and took great pride in Foreman becoming the first Orthodox Jew to win a world title in roughly 70 years.

Wilson, known to some as "Shpipples," was giddy when he negotiated a high six-figure deal with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum for Foreman to make his first title defense against Cotto June 5 at Yankee Stadium.

In the seventh round, Foreman's right knee gave out. Although severely hampered by the injury, Foreman continued, but was eventually stopped in the ninth round. Despite the injury, Wilson spoke enthusiastically about Foreman's planned February comeback and about the prospect of guiding him to another title shot.

Foreman had returned to the gym on Monday to shadowbox and skip rope for the first time since having knee surgery after the fight. Wilson had returned to New York from Las Vegas this week. Foreman was supposed to meet him Wednesday when he heard the news.

"His doorman, a friend of mine, left me a message. He said, 'Call me as soon as you can. It's very important,'" Foreman said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, I hope there's nothing wrong with Murray.' It was the worst news I was afraid of."

Arum and Wilson had forged a close relationship in recent years and Arum remembered him as fiercely loyal.

"We had a great relationship," Arum said. "He was a real man's man. He was really loyal. His word was his bond, and he was a terrific guy, a really good friend."

Wilson is survived by his wife, Sandy, and two adult daughters.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.