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Page 4 - A Slickster with Substance: Philadelphia's Tyrone Crawley, by Greg Smith


Fightworld:  After defeating Blake, you ran off five consecutive victories, including a great fight with Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown for the NABF title during the summer of 1985. 

(Interviewer's Note: Most records indicate that this fight was for the NABF title. However, Tyrone told me the belt he won, and was presented with, was actually the USBA title.)

You finally got a title shot against Livingstone Bramble during February 1986. Considering the substantial lag time after defeating Blake, why do you think it took so long to land a title shot?

Crawley:  Nobody was trying to get a fight with me because of my style. I was a good boxer, and one of the better ones at 135. Camacho, Ganigan, Jimmy Paul, “White Lightning” Brown, Rosario, and several other guys were around, so there were plenty of fighters.

I was the mandatory #1 challenger after the first Bramble vs. Mancini fight. They paid me $150,000 to step aside for their rematch.

Fightworld:  Looking back almost twenty years later, would you do the same again?

Crawley:  Looking back to that time, I would definitely do the same thing again. I looked at it as a 50/50 deal. I was going to fight either fighter in the future. If Mancini won the rematch, that would mean more money for me instead of going directly to Bramble. Mancini commanded more money for a lot of reasons. Mancini was shorter and a brawler, and Bramble was a counter puncher. I think I would’ve beaten Mancini more than I think I would’ve beaten Bramble. Mancini would not be easy, but I felt that way.

(Interviewer’s Note: The official scorecards for the Bramble vs. Mancini rematch were: 144-143, 143-142, 143-142 for Bramble. Mancini is on record stating he strongly felt he won that fight. My card was very similar to the official scorecards in favor of Bramble, but it was a close fight that was hard to score.)

Fightworld:  Bramble is known for being one of the most eccentric fighters in boxing history. When he won the title from Mancini in 1984, Bramble used a variety of offbeat psychological ploys to unsettle Mancini during the pre-fight build-up. Bramble had Mancini so angry, many believed Bramble’s psychological tactics contributed heavily to Mancini’s defeat.

When you faced Bramble, he dedicated the fight to the West Philadelphia radical separatist cult, MOVE, which engaged in a standoff with Philadelphia police in 1985. Award winning author John Edgar Wideman’s novel, Philadelphia Fire, was loosely based on events that occurred between the cult and Philadelphia police.

Bramble knew you came from a family of law enforcement in Philadelphia. What were your thoughts when Bramble dedicated the fight to MOVE? Additionally, although the fight was somewhat close on two of the cards at the time it was stopped in the thirteenth round, it was your only stoppage loss. What went wrong in that fight?

Crawley:  I knew MOVE people. I was running in the morning when they were around the neighborhood. They knew about my boxing career, and they were supportive of my career. When I was running in the morning, some of them would join me on my run and they would try to keep up with me. For Bramble to say that wasn’t right because a lot of those people were supportive of me. I felt Bramble was just running off at the mouth.

(Interviewer’s Note: Many people believed that Bramble’s psychological tactics bothered Tyrone, but in listening to Tyrone’s reaction and tone, he didn’t seemed bothered at all. Rather, he seemed to think it was a little amusing because Bramble was dedicating the fight to some of the people who were supporting Tyrone.)

In terms of the fight, nothing was wrong until the ninth or tenth round when I got weaker. Bramble dropped me in the thirteenth round with an overhand right that grazed my temple. My equilibrium was off, and I never recovered. I went down for the second time, and I just never felt that way before. I always had a good jaw and a good chin, but the punch to the temple was different.

He was stronger, and I thought he would get weaker. He didn’t get weaker like I thought he would. I thought I could settle in and take control, but he just kept coming.

Fightworld:  I noticed early in your career that you weighed in at, or above, the jr. welterweight limit for some fights. Was 135 difficult for you to make in your career?

Crawley:  No. Initially, I started at jr. welterweight, but I went where they were ranking me, and that was at lightweight. 135 pounds wasn’t hard for me to make in the early part of my career. Late in my career, it was hard to make. I was getting older, but I didn’t really let anyone know I was having trouble making weight. That was more or less behind closed doors.

Fightworld:  After the loss to Bramble, you were inactive for almost fourteen months. In the meantime, you became a police officer in June 1986. You won two more bouts in 1987, one more bout in early 1988, and then retired from the ring. You had just turned twenty-nine a few months before your last fight. What caused you to retire from professional boxing, and move into law enforcement full-time?

Crawley:  I always wanted to get into law enforcement after boxing. It was part of my plan from the beginning. I didn’t want to be in boxing too long and walk around and not be able to function. I saw that with a lot of fighters.

I went to community college, and then I went to Temple University for criminal justice courses. I have two years worth of credits. I got married and I ended up settling down with my family. My wife didn’t want me to fight anymore.

I felt I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in boxing. I wasn’t just a fighter. I was a student of the game and I served an apprenticeship. I took part in everything including the negotiations.

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Greg Smith wrote this article for the boxing Web site 

Reprinted with permission from & Mr. Smith.