With the combined efforts of Jimmy Ellis and of course, Muhammad Ali as well as a number of notable managers in the 1960’s the city of Louisville had gained a notable footing in the sport of boxing.
In the thick of this was Rudell Stitch, a welterweight with a strong orthodox boxing style, Stitch earned the number two spot in the world in the sweet science in 1960.
A powerhouse contender Stitch’s legacy was cut short, by a series of events that never would have happened to a lesser man. In 1960, at the height of the fighter’s career Stitch plunged himself into the Ohio River to save a drowning friend, Charles Oliver.
Despite Stitch’s great effort in the struggle the waves eventually took over and the two were never seen again.
Two years prior a nearly mirrored situation occurred when Stitch successfully saved a drowning stranger in the River, Army Corps of Engineers employee Joseph Shifcar.
The tragic truth about the situation is that Stitch could have been one of the greats, prior to his untimely passing he won five Kentucky state titles, and racked up a 34 and 7 record with 13 knock outs.
In addition his work ethic made him a powerhouse, working as not only a boxer but at a meatpacking plant to make ends meet.
Stitch was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal- an award that has been given to only four individuals including the Louisville native, this was actually the second time he had been bestowed this honor; the first coming after saving Shifcar. In addition the National Boxing Association began the Rudell Stitch Sportsmanship Award, meant to honor the fighter who shows the most character in and outside of the ring.
Today Stitch is one of the most respected boxers in the history of the sport and looked at as one of the most honorable men ever to step in the ring.
Image courtesy of BoxRec