This is 50: File-breaker Alicia Ashley on the key to longevity
Alicia Ashley, who boxed until she was once 50, unearths the secrets and techniques and strategies at the back of her good fortune to Oliver Fennell
MOST boxers who turn skilled in their 30s don’t get very a ways. Alicia Ashley, despite claiming boxing was once most simple ever a passion, change into a two-time WBC ruler, set a world record and earned a place inside the World Girls’s Boxing Hall of Reputation.
Her August induction into the Hall’s Magnificence of 2021 recognises her status since the oldest female titlist – her 2d WBC super-bantamweight reign lasting until she was once 49. She is also the only Jamaican woman to win a belt.
“Be mindful I didn’t turn skilled until I was just about 32,” says
55 in August, when asked to explain her longevity. “I didn’t even box amateur until I was 28. I wanted to be a ballerina. I danced from a young age, from 8 to 19, alternatively I got injured [a torn meniscus in both knees] and couldn’t dance anymore, so I switched to karate and fencing. Then I followed my massive brother Devon into kickboxing.”
Ashley would compete in kickboxing for a few years – at the side of, for a while, in tandem with boxing –alternatively it was once her first kickboxing have compatibility that equipped the catalyst for her transition to the sport all through which she would win belts and a Guinness Global File.
“My first [kickboxing] have compatibility was once against a excellent boxer,” she says. “I won by the use of the outdoor of my teeth, preserving her on the outside with kicks, alternatively every time she got earlier my legs, she was once great at the side of her arms.
“I started training in boxing to support my arms for kickboxing. But if I educate, it’s got to be for competition. Training for training’s sake doesn’t do the remainder for me.”
It was once this drive for building that led Ashley to turn skilled in 1999, after winning 3 New York Golden Gloves tournaments and two USA Nationals (she holds dual Jamaican-American citizenship, having moved from Kingston to Brooklyn when she was once 11).
“I had no expectations in boxing,” she says. “Turning skilled was once merely to get to the next level of competition. I had a job [as a computer technician] and some extent. Sport was once just for pleasure. I didn’t have a function; I didn’t suppose there was once such a lot that you must do in girls’s boxing anyway.”
Once more then, female boxing had no longer the rest like the popularity it enjoys now. For a woman without major promotional backing, the choices were even fewer. Accordingly, Ashley fought anywhere and whoever she might simply. Her 37-fight ledger (24-12-1) displays appearances in seven weight divisions (super-fly to super-light) and 13 international locations.
Typically for a freeway warrior, there were instances where a choice would perhaps have lengthy long past a definite manner in a definite location. “Seven of my losses were lower up or majority possible choices in somebody else’s homeland,” she says. “I asked every of them for a rematch, alternatively they on no account wanted to.”
She concedes she was once well beaten by the use of Laura Serrano (“the most efficient I fought; an entire fighter”) and Chevelle Hallback (“a really hard hitter; it was once on the subject of survival”), alternatively amid those results and the disputed defeats were victories over the likes of Elena Reid, Alesia Graf and Chanttall Martinez,
two over Kelsey Jeffries, a attract opposition to Layla McCarter and a 2-1 assortment with Marcela Acuna.
Ashley competed in Canada, the Virgin Islands, Austria, Guyana, Germany, China, Panama, Denmark, 3 times every in Mexico and Argentina, two instances in Haiti and spherical america, alternatively on no account was once her open-mindedness further glaring than in October 2005, when she boxed a North Korean in North Korea.
“I was like, ‘we’re going where?’,” she says. “On the other hand I was willing to struggle anyplace. People idea I couldn’t move on account of they wouldn’t let Americans in, alternatively I travelled as a Jamaican.
“It was once frightening when I arrived on account of nobody had steered me at the airport you will have to give up your cell phone, your pc, a handler collects your passport, and you’ve got to commute with a bunch always.
“It was once very restricted; you couldn’t do the remainder or move anyplace. There was once no gym I might simply move to, so I stayed in my hotel room, skipped rope and hit pads. I merely wanted to struggle and move space.”
The struggle, against Myung Ok-ryu in Pyongyang for the WBC super-flyweight establish, unsurprisingly went the local’s manner. “When the judges declared her the winner, the referee apologised,” Ashley says.
This was once followed six months later by the use of another disputed defeat, against Xiyan Zhang in Chengdu, China. “I really did not have a excellent experience with that struggle,” Ashley says. “It was once somewhat the city, really undeveloped, and the struggle was once crazily rigged. Probably the most judges was once the partner of the promoter.”
Irrespective of not having so much excellent fortune competing inside the A ways East, Ashley now lives in China, where she has worked as a boxing teacher since August 2018 – 5 months after her final bout.
“I knew my occupation was once coming to an end,” she says of the reason at the back of the switch. “I’d been combating with injuries and knew I’d wish to give up boxing. So, when the risk were given right here to seek advice from China, I jumped at it. It’ll be a definite atmosphere, so it is going to lend a hand me accept it was once time to retire.”
Ashley started out at Zou Shiming’s No.1 Sports activities actions Center and is now the top boxing teacher at UFC Fit, every in Shanghai.
“Without equal 5 years, I was combating at 70 in line with cent as a result of my knee problems [which had persisted since her dancing days],” she says. “The doctor mentioned as a substitute of a knee change, there’s not so much they can do, and I wasn’t going to transport by the use of that.”
With Ashley’s final have compatibility at age 50, it was once infrequently a occupation reduce transient. She’d claimed two WBC 122lb titles – the main tenure lasting more than 3 years by the use of her mid-40s – and secured her legacy on October 29, 2015, when she regained the belt by the use of dominating Ireland’s Christina McMahon. She was once 48 years, two months and six days out of date, and would reign for almost a year.
“I didn’t really believe that [record],” she says. “I was in boxing on account of I love competition. I nevertheless recall to mind myself as a dancer, a performer, all eyes on me.”
Knowledge and titles may not were Ashley’s motivation, alternatively winning every against McMahon were given right here on an bizarre level – her homeland. Ashley’s non-public Brooklyn enthusiasts cheered on her defining 2d.
“It was once funny, because it took me a while to get used to having a crowd at the back of me,” she says. “I’m used to the crowd being silent, on account of that suggests I’m winning.
“That time, when I heard the crowd screaming for me, I was like ‘Oh, that’s what it looks as if!”