Jamaica's Ashley lines up for world title shot
Female boxer looking to use New York main bout as stepping stone to global crown
Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
The name Alicia Ashley does not mean anything to most boxing fans in Jamaica.
However, this well kept boxing secret had a successful amateur career in New York and has been plying her trade as a professional boxer since January 29, 1999.
Tomorrow, she will meet Chrystal Hoy from Las Vegas in the main bout of a fight card in Brooklyn, New York.
Ashley is thrilled that she will be in a New York main bout and sees this as quite an achievement. What is important to her about this fight is that it is the prelude to another title fight for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) super bantamweight crown later this year.
Though overjoyed to be in line for another title fight, Ashley is sorry that her opponent is not going to be Marcela Acuna, the former champion, who she says was recently stripped of the title for refusing to give her a return fight.
"I beat her three times but only got the decisions twice," said Ashley.
"The third time was the most important because it was for the WBC title and I was robbed. Two of the judges voted for her and the other had the fight as a draw, but I know that I won and most people felt the same way," she added.
Ashley, who has a 15-9-1 record, first clashed with Acuna in 2002 for the vacant Women's International Boxing Federation super bantamweight title in Cordoba, Argentina, and came away with a majority decision.
Because of the close decision, there was a return fight in 2003 in Bolivar, Buenos Aires and this time Ashley earned a unanimous decision. She did not hold the title for long, however, losing it five months later to Esther Schouten by way of another controversial majority decision in Vienna, Austria.
Getting fights is not easy, she says, as there are lots of stumbling blocks and many of the boxers in her weight class avoid her as much as possible. Regardless, Ashley keeps training and fights whenever she can as she pursues her goal of winning the prestigious WBC title.
During her career she has won two other titles, the interim women's International Boxing Federation bantamweight title in 2005 and the North American Boxing Federation female super bantamweight title in 2008.
Ashley, who was born on August 23, 1967 in Kingston, went to Seaward Elementary school and says she was accepted to go to Wolmer's Girls at age 11, but never got there as her parents, Frank Ashley and Thelma Cormack, migrated to the United States.
She first lived in Brownsville, Brooklyn and now lives in, Kensington, in the same borough.
A lot has happened to her since she left Jamaica.
"My life has been exciting," said Ashley, who admits that she wanted to be a professional dancer - like her father - and received scholarships to the Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham schools.
However, a knee injury put an end to her dancing career and inspired by her elder brother, Devon, who was a karate instructor, she moved to that sport and then to kick-boxing.
She eventually decided to switch sports and graduated to boxing because as she surmised, there are less 'weapons' to deal with.
"There are no feet to contend with in boxing and my skills and movement are assets," she said. "My nickname 'Slick' tells part of the story."
In-between boxing she studied and has a degree in computer science, but because of her boxing career, her other job now is that of a trainer at the famous Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, where she is in turn trained by her brother and Luigi Olcese.
Although she is busy with boxing, Ashley confessed to being able to find time for "a lot of other things such as acting".
When I asked her if she ever found time to get married, she replied with a laugh: "I just got married on December 22. He is a Frenchman who is also a trainer at Gleason's."
"Matthew, Matthew Ashley," she replied. "He liked my name and decided to take it. It was his choice and he is very comfortable with it. He is a great guy."
In the meantime, Ashley is getting ready for her fight tomorrow and says she is aiming for a good victory to set the stage for another title fight later this year.
"I want to win this one for Jamaica," she ended.