PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 15, 2021  
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Obituary by John DiSanto


Slick southpaw Tyrone Crawley Sr. passed away on January 15 after an extended illness. A fine lightweight contender in the 1980s, the "Butterfly" was ranked as high as #3 by The Ring, and #1 by the World Boxing Association. In 1986 he made a gallant challenge for the WBA 135-pound championship. Outside the ring, Crawley had a distinguished career as a Philadelphia Police Officer. He also trained his son, Tyrone Jr. during his 10-bout career.

Crawley Sr. turned professional at the Martin Luther King Arena in West Philly, October 24, 1980, with a 6-round decision over Isidro Ruiz. Crawley kept winning bouts and ran his record to 7-0, 2 KOs, midway through 1982.

In July of 1982, Crawley entered the ESPN Boxing Tournament and beat tough Ernest Bing via 10-round unanimous decision, at the Sands Casino in Atlantic City, to earn a spot in the lightweight championship bout.

His opponent for the ESPN belt was Al "Earthquake" Carter, a far more experienced fighter with a record of 25-3, 24 KOs. Crawley entered the bout just 8-0, but he won none the less, knocking Carter down once and winning on points over twelve rounds.

After this bout, Crawley's level of competition ramped up considerably. His next foe was an undefeated Gene Hatcher (14-0) at the Claridge Hotel & Casino. Tyrone won again, this time by 10-round decision.

On December 9, 1982, Crawley defended his ESPN title with a tenth round TKO of Anthony Murray, back at the Sands. The victory raised Crawley's record to 11-0, with 3 KOs.

The Philadelphian suffered his first setback on February 18, 1983 when he lost his ESPN belt to Melvin Paul of New Orleans, by 12-round decision. However, the loss, did not slow his career much.

Crawley won his next eight bouts, including victories over Edwin Curet (W10), Robin Blake (W10), Steve Romero (TKO6) and Charlie "Choo Choo" Brown (W12). His win over Brown earned Crawley the vacant USBA lightweight title and landed him high in the WBA ratings.

On February 16, 1986, Crawley met champ Livingstone Bramble for the WBA championship at the MGM Grand Ballroom, in Reno, NV. The champion defended his crown by 13th round TKO, dropping Crawley once in round two and twice in round thirteen.

Crawley rebounded with three straight wins against Ali Kareem Muhammad (W10), Herminio Morales (TKO4) and Angel Rodriguez (W10), but left the ring for good in January 1988, with a pro record of 22-2, 7 KOs.

For his excellent career and many accomplishments in the ring, Crawley was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010. I will never forget how moved Tyrone was the day he entered the Hall of Fame. His place among the other greats of Pennsylvania boxing apparently meant a lot to him.

After his fighting days, Tyrone remained a true boxing fan. He stayed close to the game by guiding his son's career and never missed a big fight. He remained a dedicated student of boxing and always had strong opinions on upcoming fights and recent events. Recently, Crawley retired from the police force after 28 years.

In 2005, when I wanted to place a headstone on Tyrone Everett's unmarked grave, I needed to make contact with the Everett family to get their permission. I didn't know anyone in the Everett family at that time, so it was Tyrone Crawley that I turned to for help. Tyrone thought about it for a minute and said that he would look into it. He thought he knew someone who might have the info that I needed. Within a day or two, he called me back with a telephone number for Doris Everett, Tyrone's mother. Crawley was that type of guy - always willing to help and quick to take action. 

Crawley was a great guy and impacted many lives in his work both in boxing, law enforcement and efforts with the Philadelphia P.A.L. As his son Tyrone Jr. said in the social media message that announced his father's death, "It amazes me how many people come up to me on a daily basis and tell me that my Dad was like a father to them (and) how he saved them from jail or (from dying) on the streets." 

The Butterfly will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him, but his excellent career and fine example as a man will serve as strong reminders of the friend we all lost. Rest in Peace, Tyrone.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - January 15, 2021