Wed June 5, 2013
Louisville Boxer Rudell Stitch Honored With Downtown Mural
A Louisville boxer who died trying to save another man from drowning 53 years ago has been honored with a “hometown hero” mural on Fifth Street.
Rudell Stitch was a welterweight who by 1960 had risen to number two in the world rankings. Among his many admirers was young Olympic hopeful and sometime sparring partner Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali.
On June 5, 1960, the 27 year old Stitch died trying to save his friend Charles Oliver, who had fallen into Ohio River while they were fishing at the McAlpine Locks and Dam. Oliver also drowned.
It happened near the spot where Stitch rescued an Army Corps of Engineers worker two years earlier.
The boxer left behind his wife and six young children.
The Stitch mural is on the side of a parking garage next to the Cathedral of the Assumption. Family and friends, including musician Mickey Clark and his band, took part in a ceremony on the sidewalk below. The band performed a song Clark composed in Stitch's honor.
Another friend, Bob Cunningham, recalled Stitch as a fierce competitor with a gentle soul.
"He may knock you down and help you up and say ‘I’m just sorry,'” Cunningham said. "But if you continue the next round he’d knock you down again,"
Rudell Stitch is one of only four people to be awarded the Carnegie Medal for heroism twice for his lifesaving efforts.
"He was a man of God, he was a man of family, and he was a sportsman as well as an athlete," said Daryl Stitch, the youngest of Rudell Stich's five sons.
Rudell Stitch is the 22nd Louisvillian to be honored with a “hometown hero” mural under a program created by the Greater Louisville Pride Foundation.
Others include Muhammad Ali, Diane Sawyer and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.