|Remembering Philly’s Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley - Interview
INTERVIEW By Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (Oct 10, 2008) DoghouseBoxing.com
At the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame dinner in May of this year there were many of the past greats like Harold Johnson, George Benton, Tim Witherspoon and Meldrick Taylor, all members of the Hall. Sitting with Witherspoon was a familiar face that had me wondering. Isn’t this “Butterfly”? I looked down at my HOF list and couldn’t believe his name was not listed.
There were many non champions like “Cyclone” Hart, Willie “The Worm” Monroe, “Gypsy” Joe Harris and
Bennie Briscoe to name a few. But not “Butterfly”? As a member of the nominating committee I hope to correct that especially since he is already in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
I would run into him again in September at the Recreation championships in West Philly where his son, Tyrone Crawley, Jr., was supposed to fight. For those who may not be familiar with this lightweight title challenger of the mid 80’s I will let you in on a Q&A I did with the man they called “Butterfly”.
Ken Hissner: I would like to go through your career with you as I remember the switch hitting “Butterfly”.
Ty Crawley: I was actually a converted southpaw who probably boxed southpaw a third of the time to confuse my opponent.
KH: What kind of an amateur record did you have?
TC: I started at the Rizzo PAL and was 56-6 which included my fights on the All Army team while serving with the 82nd Airborne. Tony Santana and Gerald Hayes were friends of mine though not Army, who would later become professionals. I had beaten Johnny Bumphus (WBA light welter champ) in Knoxville. When I saw him after that he said didn’t remember it. I also beat Rob Hines (former IBF light middle champ) in the 1980 Golden Gloves at 139 pounds. (Hines commented “he was the only Philly fighter I ever lost to including Bernard Hopkins”)
KH: If Bumphus had won he probably would have remembered it. I see you had 2 pro fights starting in October of 1980, winning both.
TC: The commissioner wanted to see me spar before letting me fight a 6 round bout in my debut. He came over to the Martin Luther Arena and watched me spar with Anthony Fletcher and Jerome Artis. I did well enough that they gave me the approval.
KH: You were in with a couple of Philly’s best at an early age. You then had an 11 month lay-off. What happened?
TC: My manager couldn’t get me any fights and we had a problem one day when he pulled a knife on me. So, I punched him. I then went to the commission and they arranged for a meeting but he never showed up which dissolved my contract.
KH: You then go to DC and fight Pat Jefferson who was 6-0.
TC: A phone call came to the gym and the person answering said “does anyone want to fight an 8 rounder in DC? I needed the money so I took the fight and said I was 4-0 instead of 2-0.
KH: Jefferson was a good fighter. You must have been impressive.
TC: I won the decision and would even have the promoter of that fight as my promoter in the future.
KH: In your first 10 rounder, though only your 8th fight, you were in the ESPN tournament against the veteran Ernest Bing, 19-9-2 (7).
TC: I won that fight and would meet Al “Earthquake” Carter, 25-3 (22) in the championship fight next.
KH: He was a hard hitter with quite a few knockouts. He scored 22 knockouts in his first 23 fights, losing one by knockout.
TC: There was no turning around after winning that bout. Smiley Hayward was my trainer and would always be with me, but my promoter brought in George Benton to help out with instructions. Carter was definitely one of the hardest punchers.
KH: The following month you decision future WBA junior welter champ and unbeaten Gene Hatcher, 14-0 (11) in Atlantic City.
TC: Hatcher was well conditioned, but would throw wide punches.
KH: After having won 4 straight fights in Atlantic City you were matched with Melvin Paul, 15-1 (11) who was coming off his only loss, to Hector “Macho” Camacho. You would suffer your first defeat. Tell us about that.
TC: I had a broken knuckle in my left hand but thought I could get by him.
He gets under you like a tank. I lost the decision in 12 rounds.
KH: Paul loses 7 months later to Robin Blake, 21-0 (15). It somehow earns him a title fight 4 months later for the newly created IBF title with Philly’s Charley “Choo Choo” Brown, 22-2-1 (16). The strange part of it is you stopped Blake a month after Paul lost to him or Blake would have gotten the title fight.
TC: Wesley Mouzon was brought in to help Hayward with the training for several fights. I beat Edwin Curet, 14-0-1 (6) and then traveled to Texas for Blake.
KH: Blake was a tall southpaw with quite a record. Why his hometown?
TC: I felt confident in myself and always did quite well with southpaws. At the weigh-in he said he was going to “knock me out”. I knew when I beat him it would establish me as a top contender.
KH: In January of 1984 you meet Steve Romero, 22-1 (14) in Atlantic City.
TC: That is one guy I enjoyed knocking out. He made racial remarks during the fight.
KH: You have 3 fights in the next year winning all 3 over average guys. You are then matched with Brown, now, an ex champ, for the vacant USBA title
TC: What was odd about that was we had been sparring for a couple of weeks at his gym preparing him for a fight about a month before his meeting Terrance Ali who was coming off a title loss with Harry Arroyo. He pulled out and I got the call.
KH: That must have been some fight because I know when I once brought Bruce “Sugar” Williams to spar with Brown it was a gym war.
TC: It was like that in the gym with him because we were from the same city. They must have sent him to camp after that because he was in great shape for our fight. He was strong and usually wore down but not in this one.
KH: What went through your mind when the announcer said “we have a majority decision”?
TC: I thought they miscalculated the scorecards. I thought I clearly won and was even the aggressor. He did hurt me late in the fight. The win got me a title fight with Livingstone Bramble, 23-1-1 (15).
KH: In February of 1986 you meet Bramble for the WBA lightweight title in Reno, Nevada. He had already defeated Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini twice.
TC: Bramble had scored a flash knockdown in the 2nd round. In the 13th he hit me right on the temple. I had never been hit there before like that. I had no control of my legs. It must have affected my equilibrium.
KH: You were off for 14 months after that. Were you considering retirement?
TC: I had been attending Temple and Philadelphia Community College. I thought I did quite well in a short period of time in boxing. I was getting into criminal justice. I joined the Philadelphia Police Department during the summer of 1986 and was named Director of the North Philadelphia PAL. I had been having trouble making 135. I hooked up with Mickey Duff from the UK who put me in several fights in New York after that. My heart just wasn’t in it anymore even though I became rated in the top 15.
KH: I see you defeated 3 Spanish fighters in New York as a junior welterweight. You were only 29 with a 22-2 record with 7 knockouts.
TC: In my last fight I beat the hell out of Angel Rodriguez, 12-2-1 (6) and think I may have ruined his career.
KH: He didn’t fight again for almost a year and retired after 2 more fights. What are you doing today?
TC: I am studying to become a detective within the department. I have a daughter Ageenah and a son Kevin. Of course you met Tyrone, Jr. at the fights. He had his first fight a week before while I was in Virginia. My good friend Rob Hines (“Bam Bam” Hines) worked the corner for me. I was told he looked like he had been fighting for years. I am saved, and attend the 1st Baptist church of Huntington Valley.
KH: I look forward to seeing him. I am probably one of the few writers that cover’s the professional fights and attends the amateur fights.
TC: I look forward to seeing the story.
e-mail Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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