The Fast Rise and Tragic Fall of Tyrone “The Mean Machine” EverettPosted: May 18, 2011 | Author: Johnny Goodtimes | Filed under: Featured, Other | Tags: 1970s, Alfredo Escalara, boxing, Mike Everett, Mob, Philadelphia, transvestite, Tyrone Everett | 18 Comments »
I first came across the name Tyrone Everett in a list of Philly’s Best Ever Fighters compiled by Bernard Hopkins in The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists. Everett’s entry was a mere two sentences long, but the 2nd sentence more than piqued my interest.
He was robbed in his 1976 Spectrum title fight against Alfredo Escalara and was tragically shot to death just 6 months later.
An athlete dying young and a potentially fixed fight? It was worth looking into. I would soon discover that Tyrone’s story was more than a tragedy. It was pulp non-fiction, a story that included the Mob, transvestites, drugs, snakes, and a mysterious murder.
Tyrone Everett was born in April of 1953 in South Philadelphia and started boxing at a young age. It was quickly recognized that the lefty had some serious talent, and his fame grew in South Philly, where young girls would jump rope while chanting “Ty, Ty, Butterfly.” The superfeatherweight was a regular attraction at the Spectrum’s Monday Night Fights in 1973 and ’74, and he won every bout. Along the way he earned the USBA superfeatherweight title. In June of 1975, “The Mean Machine” as he was known, finally travelled off his home turf to fight in Honolulu. The exotic locale didn’t affect his fury. He won by KO in the first round. By 1976, he was undefeated and a national contender for the WBC World Title. On November 30, 1976, he got his chance.
Now with a record of 34-0, Everett was given a shot at title holder Alfredo Escalara. Escalara was a flashy showman, known for his love of salsa music and for entering the ring with a snake around his neck when he fought in his native Puerto Rico. Though he was the challenger, Everett got to host the fight in his backyard, the Philadelphia Spectrum. There were three judges; a Puerto Rican judge, the referee, and a Philadelphia judge named Lou Tress.
If the fight was close, most people expected Tress to side with Everett, the Puerto Rican judge to stay loyal to Escalara, and that the fight would be determined by the referee. The fight was not close. From the opening bell Everett was the superior fighter, and he ran circles around the Puerto Rican, dominating the 15 round bout. The AP scored it 146-139, Everett. The UPI had it 146-141. Every ringside observer had Everett winning at least 10 rounds. The South Philly southpaw was going to be crowned World Champion. The future was his. And then it was stolen.
Daily News writer Tom Cushman wrote the next day,
“Tyrone Everett won the junior lightweight championship of the world last night. Won it with a whirling, artistic, courageous performance that brushed against the edges of brilliance. Tyrone was standing tall, proud, bleeding in his corner after the 15 rounds, waiting for the championship belt to be draped around his waist, when they snatched it from him. Picked him so clean it’s a wonder they didn’t take his shoes and trunks along with everything else.”
Years later Cushman wrote a book called Muhammad Ali and the Greatest Heavyweight Generation. And though Tyrone was far from a heavyweight, Cushman decided to include a chapter about Everett. In it, he wrote that Everett’s promoter, J Russell Peltz happened to run into renowned Philly fixer (and Frank Sinatra buddy) Blinky Palermo a few days after the fight. Peltz asked him if he thought that the fight might have been fixed. Palermo responded, “You can buy Lou Tress for a cup of coffee.”
Everett handled the screw job well, bouncing back to win his next two fights and setting up a rematch with Escalara that was to take place in Puerto Rico. The fight never happened. 10 days after his last fight, Tyrone Everett was killed, shot through the head in South Philly.
There are conflicting and murky reports about what happened in the wee morning hours of May 26th, 1977 in a 2nd floor apartment on Federal Street, but they all include Tyrone Everett’s girlfriend Carolyn McKendrick (left), a tranvestite named Tyrone Price, 39 bags of heroin, and a Ruger Blackhawk. The story goes something like this (according primarily to a January 12, 1978 edition of Jet Magazine): McKendrick walked in on the boxer and Price together under “questionable circumstances”. She grabbed the loaded gun off the dresser. According to McKendrick in court, Everett threatened her with bodily harm. According to Price (testifying while wearing earrings, artificial breasts, and in a falsetto voice), Everett taunted McKendrick and she shot him in a rage. Either way, there was little doubt that McKendrick pulled the trigger, ending the life of one of Philly’s most promising boxers.
Mike Everett, Tyrone’s brother (and a former boxer himself), would later admit that while Tyrone would never do drugs, he was probably involved in the drug game (again from Cushman’s excellent book):
(Tyrone) probably was fronting people to buy drugs. Once you get a little money, you get greedy and look for ways to invest it and make a little more. That’s what Carolyn was into. That’s the life we were leading back then.
Thus the baggies of heroin. But there was another question I’ve yet to find sufficiently answered. Why, after the murder, did Price and McKendrick leave the house together, with Price attempting to help McKendrick escape? They were both caught, and Price flipped and testified against McKendrick. Everett’s former girlfriend served a 5 year stint in jail. Price returned to the streets.
Mike Everett, whose career started with almost as much promise as his brother’s, was never the same fighter. Before his brother’s death, he was 22-4. A month after Tyrone was killed, he won an emotional victory over Rocky Ramon at the Arena in South Philly, but after that fight he went 1-6 before retiring in 1979.
As for Tyrone Everett, he has no wiki page, and there is little information to be found about him online. But his memory is kept alive. He had 4 children before he died (another was born after his death), and one of his grandchildren (who bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather) has started a facebook page commemorating the boxing great. And in 2005, local boxing fan and founder of phillyboxinghistory.com John DiSanto discovered that Everett was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. DiSanto spent his $1500 of his own money to ensure that Everett had a proper gravestone. Tyrone Everett died a little over a month after his 24th birthday.