Leroy Brown, Gleaner Writer
Wearing a broad smile and declaring that "when I see weather like this, I want to come back to live in Jamaica", World Boxing Council (WBC) female super bantamweight champion, Alicia Ashley, arrived in Jamaica yesterday to participate in the RJR National Sportsman and Sportswoman awards ceremony tomorrow night at The Pegasus hotel.
Ashley, who was met by Gary Allen, the chairman of the RJR Sports Foundation, is one of the finalists for the female award for the second year in succession. She earned a place in the finals by scoring an impressive victory over Maria Elena Villalobos in Mexico City, Mexico, last March, in a successful defence of her world title.
She told The Gleaner on arrival that there were two other possible defences last year that fell through, but negotiations are now taking place for a fight in either February or March.
"I am anxious to get back into the ring and I really hope that these talks are successful,'' she stated.
She plans to run in the mornings and train at the Stanley Couch gym while she is here.
"I cannot afford to lose any training time now," she said. "I have to make use of this beautiful sunshine since it is so cold in New York now."
Accompanying her to Jamaica for the awards ceremony is her husband, Matthieu Ashley, a tall Frenchman. Born in Paris, he said he heard so much about Jamaica that he had to make the trip with his wife this time around.
"I really like the little bit that I have seen of Jamaica driving in from the airport and I hope to make use of these next few days," he shared.
Asked about his name, he told The Gleaner in a lilting French accent, that before marrying Alicia two years ago, his name was Matthieu Steing.
"I not only fell in love with her, but I also fell in love with her name and instead of her taking my name I took hers. It confuses some people and they ask me why, but it is simple; I liked the name, so with her permission, I took it, that's all."
When asked about the recent victory by Nicholas Walters, who is now the World Boxing Association(WBA) featherweight champion, Alicia said: "It says a lot about our country and the talent that is here."
She now hopes to fight on a card in Jamaica with Walters also participating.
"That is my New Year's wish and I hope that it comes true," she concluded.