Beginning his amateur career in 1949 at age 15, Crawford compiled a record of 30 wins (16 by knockout), four losses and one draw. Fighting at 126 pounds, he won the Durham, Burlington and Greensboro Golden Gloves Tournament in 1949 and again in 1950. The following year he won the AAU championship in High Point. After winning the Durham Golden Gloves Tournament in 1952, he entered the Navy and immediately fought and defeated the Brigade Champion. He received an honorable discharge from the Navy and went on to fight four professional fights, winning them all. As part of his amateur career, Crawford defeated Jack Gilbert, a member of the Carolinas’ Boxing Hall of Fame and fellow 1997 inductee Jerry Loy.
Crawford holds a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and a master’s and a doctorate from Duke University and is now retired from his position as Full Professor, School of Biological Sciences and Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Kentucky.