From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Steve Crosby v Edmund "Kid" Rucker (boxing)

In 1897 the state of Kentucky and the city of Louisville did not permit boxing matches between African Americans and whites for fear of race riots. But that did not prevent the fight between African American Steve Crosby, a lightweight professional fighter, and a white Louisville native, amateur fighter Edmund "Kid" Rucker.

The publicity was handled by Louisville Times newspaperman Verney "Screw" Sanders, and admission orders came from Nashville, TN; Evansville and Indianapolis, IN; and Lexington, KY. The location of the bout was not publicized.

The day of the fight, those with purchased admission knew to be on the Ohio River riverbank by 8:00 p.m. when tugboats would take the boxers and what was thought to be an all-male audience to Six Mile Island on the Ohio River. At the island, the white audience stood on one side of the makeshift ring and African Americans were on the opposite side.

As the fight progressed, Rucker was knocked down again and again, but he continued to get up and kept fighting. During the 13th round, a rifle was taken away from a spectator who wanted to shoot Crosby for a perceived foul that left Rucker lying face down in the ring. Rucker was taken to his corner and given a whiff of nitrate of amyl, and the bout continued until the 20th round when the referee called it a tie.

The fight was reported in the Louisville Courier Journal on September 18, 1897. For more see E. Rucker, "A Prize Fighter in the Nineties," Harper's Magazine, 179 (June/November 1939) pp. 243-255.


Kentucky County & Region

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Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

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Read about Six Mile Island, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Steve Crosby v Edmund "Kid" Rucker (boxing),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-08-19 18:12:04