“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend” - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

For years, there were two things easily taken for granted about the short, tragic life of a junior lightweight champion who never was. The first was that Tyrone Everett was the victim of one of the worst decisions of the 1970s. The second was that Everett was murdered by his girlfriend when she caught him with another man.

The decision was really that bad. On November 30, 1976, Everett outboxed, outfought, and outclassed WBC super featherweight champion Alfredo Escalera in Everett’s hometown of Philadelphia. Readers are encouraged to check out the fight on YouTube. Everett, who was 36-1 (20) when his career was cut short, appeared on the verge of a rematch that never came. He would have had a good chance to avenge a fight no one should ever have called a loss. Gifted with timing, reflexes, and intelligence, Everett with a title would have had a chance to face names like Arguello and Chacon and had a chance to defeat them. 

The legend and the fact, in the ring, match up.

Author Sean Nam raises a lot of doubt about legend number two in his masterfully written biography of Everett, “Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, The Black Mafia, Fixed Fights, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.” Published in the spring of 2023, Nam digs deep into the life of not only Everett but the world of Philadelphia boxing in the 1970s for an engrossing, highly recommended read.

Everett’s talent in the ring was evident well before the Escalera loss, perhaps to his detriment. More stylist than killer in the ring, Everett had the sort of style and sometimes boxing first approach that gave opponents an excuse to avoid him. As Nam relates, Angelo Dundee was blown away in 1974 watching Everett take apart veteran Blakeney Matthews in two:

There was no second guessing from Dundee…A native of South Philadelphia himself, Dundee seemingly converted on the spot. Immediately he put Everett in the same class as some of the best southpaws he had seen in his more than three decades in the sport. Dundee reckoned his beloved city would soon have another champion. “Anytime you get a southpaw that hits you with both handsome moves in-and-out, moves from side-to-side, then you got a great fighter.”

Nam’s book will give readers a trip through the entire career of Everett, from preliminary fighter to rising contender. In doing so, as much as the book is about the life and death of Everett, it is also about the rise of promoter J. Russell Peltz in Philadelphia. Peltz is a candid, enlightening voice throughout the book as are members of Everett’s family.  

Peltz is honest about his personal feelings toward Everett; their relationship could be strained. He is also honest in recounting events around the Escalera loss, and his case for the murky side of the outcome will leave readers with strong assumptions about what occurred in a hometown decision in reverse.

In peeling back the layers around the death of Everett, Nam raises significant doubt around the legend. Piecing together the players against the backdrop of organized crime, and a woman between a fighter and key criminal figure, gives ample food for thought. The book slyly morphs in the second half from a biography to a history of the Black Mafia in Philadelphia and while it offers no conclusions, the questions posed are thought provoking.  

Despite his best efforts, Nam couldn’t quite get the woman convicted of murdering Everett, Carolyn Mckendrick, on the record and it leaves an air of mystery to the tale. 

Readers can draw their own conclusions and should. “Murder on Federal Street” is a product of quality storytelling and excellent research and worth reading for any boxing fan. It’s about a man, a city, and a murder in equal parts and all of them keep the pages turning. 

The book is available in paperback on Amazon.  

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com