Everett was a local boxing sensation in the 1970s as the sport entered a vibrant boom of popularity. At the age of 24, he was gunned down in his home on Federal Street by his girlfriend in 1977.
New York boxing journalist Sean Nam decided to take a deeper look and shine a new light on Everett’s hazy legacy. His book, titled Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, Fixed Fights, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing, has been opening the eyes of boxing fans as well those interested in revisiting a true crime story.
“There’s really nothing on him,” Nam said. “And his legacy is really kind of diminished. If you’re not around, you’re not spoken about anymore. I thought it was interesting in the course of researching the book that Tyrone is rarely mentioned in this era of boxing that is often referred to as the golden age for Philadelphia boxing. He was part of it.”
Everett’s time in the sport was brief but impressive. His professional record as a junior lightweight was 36-1, with his lone defeat coming in a controversial decision loss to World Boxing Council Junior Lightweight Champion Alfredo Escalera on Nov. 30, 1976.
“He was a promising talent,” Nam said. “He would have had a chance to fight some of the best talents of that era. But he didn’t quite get there. The TV apparatus wasn’t quite set up yet and Atlantic City hadn’t really emerged yet. Had he stuck around for a few more years, he would have gotten to fight some of those guys in front of a television audience. In other words, there would be videos of Tyrone Everett fighting on YouTube.”
Instead, Everett’s legacy mostly centers around his tragic death in a South Philly row home. His girlfriend Carolyn McKendrick was convicted of third-degree murder for shooting Everett in the face after allegedly finding him in bed with a transvestite. She was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for the crime, which also included 39 packets of heroin found in the home.
“That whole tragedy really spiraled out of control with the involvement of the drugs, the insinuations that he was messing around with other women and guys as well,” Nam said. “He was only 24 and left behind four kids. He got around a bit.”
Nam believes there were other factors involved, which included the powerful Black Mafia. He was inspired to dig even deeper after reading Black Brothers, Inc. : The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia, written by Sean Patrick Griffin in 2007.
“As I was researching the story, I learned more about his associations with what is known today as the Black Mafia,” Nam said. That hasn’t been part of the story before. There was always street talk that the girlfriend didn’t do it. My book maybe offers some context that might lend some credence to those rumors. I’m trying to dispel some matters about Tyrone Everett and at the same time amplify some rumors.”
“It was not something reported by the press at the time,” Nam said. “As McKendrick is standing trial and her husband is in the courtroom attending every day of the trial, it was never reported that this guy was part of this group because he had not been codified or described as such.
“These are the types of pieces I tried to put together to show that while Tyrone was ascending in the sporting world, at the same time he had some strong ties to the street. And McKendrick herself comes from a family of some really violent criminals. Maybe she pulled the trigger, but the motive was elsewhere.”
Nam interviewed family members and boxing promoters and was also able to score an interview with McKendrick.
“That took a little work,” Nam said. “I got in touch with a family and asked her to get in touch with me. We spoke and she didn’t want to go on the record but we had a cordial conversation and she gave me her side. I think she was touched that I had reached out to her. No one had reached out before.”
Nam also spoke with legendary Philadelphia boxing promoter Russell Peltz. Peltz’ input, along with other boxing experts, gave Nam the insight to Everett’s style and the local boxing scene of South Philly in the 1970s.
“Russell Peltz had promoted all of these guys,” Nam said. “Ini researching, you learn Everett was extremely abrasive in the ring towards his opponents and he broke a cardinal rule in that you go in, do your job and get out. But he came from a different school. He had this defiance against the establishment. He had that in him. And he was a brilliant boxer.”
Nam attempts to give the fullest account of Tyrone Everett’s short life and dispel the misconceptions that have been built over the last five decades. The paperback book is 332 pages and is available on eBook and Amazon.com
“I thought there is a basis here to tell the story, to tell it anew, and to tell it in a way that would maybe clear up some of the misconceptions, because I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Tyrone,” Nam said. “There’s a dramatic telling story here that is ripe for a retelling. I wanted to tell it in a way that had not been done before.”