Tyrell Biggs now trains kids in boxing at Shepherd Recreation Center in West Philadelphia. Credit: Lunchbox Communications, Photographer: Robert Carter
Tyrell Biggs isn’t missing. We know where he is. He’s teaching boxing to kids whose parents remember the former boxer as the gold medal winner in the 1984 Olympics.
They remember him beating Mike Evans after turning pro following the Games.
But they also remember his fall from grace — his drug and alcohol addiction and his first professional loss to Mike Tyson for Tyson's world heavyweight title in 1987.
He had a smattering of wins and losses after that but admittedly, it was never the same for him.
“I was just trying to rebound and continue fighting and continue to win and go back up and get back into championship contention,” Biggs said. “It didn’t work out that.”
But the Philadelphia native is still doing what he loves and a local film production company is trying to bring forth a documentary about his life. Dafna Yachin, chief creative officer at Lunchbox Communications in Manayunk and Trinity Greer are co-directing the documentary, which needs about $30,000 more to go in less than two weeks of its Kickstarter campaign.
“We were fascinated with [Biggs’] story,” Yachin said. “I was quite surprised that half the people in the community didn’t know who he was.”
Documentary filmmakers are trying to get the life story of boxer Tyrell Biggs made into a film. Credit: Lunchbox Communications, Photographer: Robert Carter
The money would help the production team complete the documentary and share the film. Boxers Eugene Hart and his son Jesse are interviewed, as well as trainers Lou Duva and Tommy Brooks. The team hopes to get his 1984 boxing team members on the film — Pernell Whitaker, Mark Breland and Evander Holyfield.
Mike Tyson is also slated to be interviewed regarding the October 1987 fight in Atlantic City for Tyson to defend his World Heavyweight Title. The referee had called the bout with just about three minutes left in the seventh round.
“I did some things wrong and I underestimated his speed,” Biggs said. “He’s a pretty big puncher. The thing that made it that much more effective, he had the speed. And I kind of fell short. I was looking forward to trying to win the championship for the world. How many people get the opportunity to do that? I was just overwhelmed by the feeling of being able to go to the championship.”
Yachin’s documentary will not only focus on Biggs life as a boxer but his start as a basketball player at his West Philadelphia high school. And of course, it will focus on the work he’s doing at Mitchell Allen Gym at Shepherd Recreation Center on 57th Street and Haveford Avenue.
“Most of us will never experience the highs and lows Tyrell has experienced,” Yachin said. “It was the story that drew us in. Nobody was telling it.”
After the noble art
Tyrell Biggs started out at the Joe Frazier gym on North Broad Street.
He now trains kids, aged 10 to 15, in the boxing gym downstairs at Shepherd Rec Center.
He said the kids have an idea of who he is through their parents. "They can always pull me up on the Internet."
He still trains in a way; he holds the pads and jumps rope with the kids. "It's a good thing. It's good to be able to try to see these kids progress and do things positive instead of all the negative things going on."
Filmmakers are still a good amount away from their goal of $35,000. With 13 days left in the campaign, only about $4,300 has been raised. To read about the campaign and to learn how to donate, click here.