Posts Tagged ‘boxing trainer

23
Oct
15

Alicia Ashley in the ring to win back her WBC Title on 10/29/2015

Alicia Ashley in the ring to win back her WBC Title on 10/29/2015

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Alicia “Slick” Ashley remains one of the most compelling fighters in women’s boxing not only for her longevity in the sport (she fought in the first ever U.S. nationals as an amateur in the late 1990s), but in her ability to perform at the top of her game as a virtuoso of the art of boxing. And no wonder too, Ashley started her career as a dancer before embracing kickboxing and eventually the sweet science.

11911347_1020705724628826_6601443186204025369_nAt 48, (yes that’s a story too), Ashley will be heading back into the ring on October 29th at Aviator Sports & Events Center in New York City  (a complex located on the famed Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn) with a view towards reclaiming the WBC Female Super Bantamweight Title belt she lost, some would say controversally so, to Jackie Nava thirteen months ago in Mexico. Ashley will battle against Ireland’s Christina McMahon (7-0), a 40-year-old latercomer to the professional side of the sport who holds the current interim WBC Female Bantamweight Title.  The co-main event is on a Brooklyn Brawl card promoted by Dimitry Salita.

Ashley’s career has  tracked alongside the near-on tragic highs and lows of women’s boxing in the panoply of American sports television with its boom-bust cycle of support, promotion, paydays and opportunities for the talented working professionals who grace the boxing gyms of the U.S. across the country with their remarkable work ethic and love of a game that at best ignores them and at worst actively seeks to keep them off the air–and thereby out of the running for the opportunity to earn a living.

That tide of lows *may* be on a slight uptick given that CBS Sports (cable) aired the four-round Amanda Serrano v.  Fatima Zarika fight on 5/29/2015 (the first such fight on the network since the late 1970s) and the very public statements by Shane Mosely castigating the boxing industry for keeping women’s boxing off the air. To prove that it wasn’t just all “mouth,” he went on to put the Maureen Shea v. Luna Avila IBF World Female Super Bantamweight ten round title fight on his Pay Per View card on 8/29/2015 with the promise that there will be more to come–although there has been little to no discussion about it since.

WBC Headshot Alicia Ashley. Photo curtesy of Alicia Ashley

For Ashley, long an advocate for equity in the sport, the potential uptick–which those of us in the game who truly advocate for women’s boxing watch as avidly as the Dow Jones–this may mean the opportunity for slightly higher pay days, but given that she is a champion four times over, she’s far from being known as Alicia “Money” Ashley, and can only earn a decent payday in places like Mexico (likely the equivalent of “Money” Mayweather‘s tips after a  night out in Las Vegas). And by a slightly higher pay-day, I mean the chance to take a vacation or upgrade the equipment she uses as a boxing trainer at Gleason’s Gym where she works from early in the morning till late in the day, six days a week.

This is the life of a female boxing champion–our Bernard Hopkins, if you will, whose dancer-like poise, defensive genius and ring savvy thrills each and every time she steps into the ring.

Ahead of her championship title match, Ashley continues to labor at Gleason’s Gym where “camp” means adding in an extra couple of hours a day to spar and train in addition to working with her clients.  This is not an unknown as other female boxing champions/trainers such as Heather Hardy, Shelito Vincent and Keisher “Fire” McLeod must do the same to earn enough money to compete. On the “bright side,” being a trainer means pretty much staying in condition, if not in boxing “game day” shape. Hmmm….

Photo curtesy of Alicia Ashley

In between her busy schedule, Ashley took the time to respond to a Girlboxing Q & A. Here’s what she had to say:

1.  You’ve got an upcoming WBC Female Superbantamweight fight on 10/29/2015 at Aviator Sports in Brooklyn, NY for the vacant title against Irish boxer Christina McMahon. Although at 41 years of age she’s only 7-0, she does have the interim WBC World Bantamweight title. What can you tell us about her and how this bout came together?
I actually don’t know that much about Christina other than her going into someone else’s back yard and winning the title. There isn’t that much video on her and I feel her record doesn’t fully speak to her experience. She, like I, joined the sport after fighting as a kickboxing champion and that in itself means she’s not new to the game. Every opponent is dangerous no matter their experience.
2. You lost the title a year ago to Jackie Nava, a fight some observers felt you may have won or at the very least fought to a draw (as one judge saw it)–with the loss coming because of how your style (you are called “Slick” for a reason) is one that the Mexican judges may not have felt showed enough to score rounds in your favor. Even with that loss, you had a TKO win over Grecia Nova two months later in Haiti–where you continued to fight in your cool “slick” manner.  As you prepare to fight McMahon — what are you focusing on to ensure that the judges will see the fight your way if it goes the distance?
I can only ‘fight’ my fight. Yes, I am a slick boxer and although the desire is to never leave it in the hands of the judges, sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. I’m not known as a knockout artist but I think my style of boxing will definitely be appreciated more here in the US. It’s not just about being a hard puncher, it’s about being effective.
3. We’ve talked before about the state of women’s boxing, the frustration of finding promoters to put women’s bouts on cards, the frustration of seeing cards put together only to fall apart (as happened with this fight originally scheduled for September), the intense battle for pay equity (a losing one for certain right now), along with the continued absence of female bouts on television in America with very few exceptions.  Given that Amanda Serrano appeared on CBS in late May, and Maureen Shea on Shane Mosely’s PPV card at the end of August, along with two female bouts on PBC cards on 9/11/ & 9/12 respectively, if not on television–in your view, is there any reason for optimism?
I should hope that there’s always reason for optimism, but its disappointing that in this day and age the amount of female fights broadcast can be counted on one hand. I’ve been in this business over 14yrs and am still shocked that I’m more well known in other countries. That they are more inclined to showcase female fighters than we are. This I feel is the main reason we continue to get astronomically low wages. In fact, 10 years ago when I fought for my first title I earned more than they are offering women now. How can we continue to accept way less than we are worth and then expect it to get better? This battle cannot just be fought by a few women.
Photo credit: Hitomi Mochizukii. Curtesy of Alicia Ashley.
4.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have observed you take a wide range of male and female boxers to school sparring at Gleason’s Gym, not to mention having seen a few of your fights in person over the last few years. At 48, you are continuing not only to fight competitively, but seemingly to remain at the top of your game. Win, lose or draw on the 29th, are you of a mind to continue boxing competitively for the foreseeable future?
I continue to fight not only because I love the sport but because I do remain competitive. I can honestly say that I leave my fights and sparring without any serious damage. That is the main reason I have longevity in this sport, the ability to not get hit. Other than people being shocked at my age, which is not noticeable in or out of the ring, I’m not battle weary in any way.
5. You are an inspiration to female boxers and have developed into a phenomenal trainer and coach. Do you see yourself pushing on that front to start seeking out professional women to train and take into that aspect of the sport–or will you continue to focus on women new to the sport or pushing their way into the amateurs?
Thank you. I feel its important to pass on any knowledge that I have and am very honored at the women, amateurs or professionals, who seek me out and are accepting of it. The one thing that I’ve been working on is doing a female fight seminar. This is more about being able to break down fighting styles, picking up the nuances of a technique and being able to adjust accordingly. Quite a few females that I’ve sparred, especially in round robin, are surprised at how well I can adjust to the different styles and I believe experience with seeing the ‘bigger picture’ is an important tool to the trade. Anything that I can do to elevate women’s boxing, I will.
6. What do you tell your young female fighters who may want to enter the sport professionally? Or put another way, is there a future for them to seek out?
I’m hoping that with each new generation of female fighters that there is some kind of progress in the right direction. I try to be realistic with my fighters and they are not clueless. Most, if not all the female fighters, have a full time job and don’t expect to break the bank as a professional. What we are hoping is to at least be able to live comfortably and at this point very, very few women can attest to that.
7. You always talked about boxing as performance–if you do decide to wind down the competitive aspects of your career in the sport do you see other avenues for expressing art in the public realm?
It’s very hard for me to look past boxing right now. It was the same with dance. I had no other avenues mapped out before I was injured and its the same now. I’m currently teaching the sport so I essentially I already am in that new chapter.
8. I look upon you in awe sometimes as a professional fighter, body artist–because to tell you the truth that how it appears in your case–and talent when it comes to coaching and mentoring. What does it all feel like as you perform in those roles and as you look to embark on yet another performance on the 29th?  In other words, what is that is motivating you to express yourself so strongly and with such power in the ring?
I’m in awe myself when people express such respect or inform me that I’m an inspiration to them. As you know, I always equate my boxing as a performance and its my duty to entertain and captivate the audience for 20 minutes. Attention span is so short nowadays that its a challenge in itself to keep people mesmerized and that is all the motivation I need.

Alicia Ashley versus Jackie Nava … you be the judge.

 

04
Feb
13

Newbie sparring …

Newbie sparring …

 Sparring, Gleason's Gym

For new boxers, the lure of sparring offers the first opportunity to put the skills they’ve been learning to the test.

That means the chance to throw the old one-two, and otherwise work on their offensive combinations, as well as using and importantly, perfecting their defensive skills.

Before sparring begins boxers need to have frank and honest conversations with their trainers as to what to expect and what the progression of their sparring training will be. Questions and issues to consider include the following:

1. Do you really want to spar? This may seem obvious, but some students feel they HAVE TO, before they are really ready to. Make certain that you are clear on what you want to do.

Gleason's Gym, All Female Boxing Card, April 20112. Are you aware of the risks? This can mean anything from a black eye, a split-lip, a broken nose, or even a concussion or other brain injury if you are hit too hard on the head or land hard on the canvas.

3. Does your trainer have your back, meaning, do you honestly trust that your trainer is going to help keep you safe from harm and have the will to stop the sparring session if he or she thinks it is getting too rough?

4. Will your trainer listen to you if after a round or two you say, “I’ve had enough”? There is no glory in getting hurt or in working past one’s own endurance. If you can’t go on, then don’t. You risk injury, dehydration or worse if you push yourself too far.

boxing mouth guard5. Do you have a good mouth guard? This is a REALLY essential piece of equipment. And frankly, you should NEVER step in the ring to spar—even to learn a few pointers with your trainer—without one.

If you think you will be sparring on a regular basis and can afford it, you might well want to go to your dentist to have one custom made. Alternatively, you can purchase decent ones from sporting goods, boxing & MMA stores online. Your local gym may also keep some on hand for sale

Boxing Head Gear6. Do you own a helmet or does your trainer have a helmet to lend you when you are in the ring? A good, safe, well-fitting helmet is a MANDATORY requirement if you intend to engage in sparring. While this might not be legally required—you should not consider sparring or even playing in the ring without one. It is THAT SERIOUS.

The helmets approved for sanctioned USA Boxing amateur fights are likely your best bet. They are padded and provide good protection for you head and jaw line and many will also do a good job of protecting your nose. All of the major boxing catalogs carry them including Ringside, Title and Everlast.

Make no mistake. These helmets do NOT protect you completely and you could still suffer from a concussion, a hematoma (bleeding on the brain), or other form of brain injury even when you wear a helmet.

What they do offer you is some protection from blows and falls, but do not replace the kind of good defensive training that will see you move your head out of harms way.

7. Do you need or want to use other protective gear? Depending upon your sparring partner, and the likely intensity of your time in the ring, you may want to wear gear that protects your lower abdomen and your genitals. There are different designs for men and women and you should make sure that you are using a design that will give you the best protection. This type of gear protects you from feeling blows to your abdomen, but again, will not protect you completely.

LaTarisha Fountain, Photo credit: Savulich/News8. Do you have a decent pair of boxing gloves to spar in? Generally, sparring is done with 12 oz. or 10 oz. gloves depending upon your weight class. Here too, you might well want to use USA Boxing approved amateur gloves. They are well padded for your protection—as well as for the protection of your sparring partner. Likely your trainer will have a decent pair for you to use if you do not own your own.

handwraps9. Are your hands wrapped properly? This is another biggy! I’m not saying that your training has to give you the full fight treatment, but at the very least you need to make sure that you are using proper clean hand wraps that will give your hands good protection.

10. A word about your sparring partner. As a Girlboxing reader put it, your sparring partner is a member of your team. While you may not know your sparring partner well, your trainer should. That means knowing the relative boxing skills of your partner, his or her strengths and weaknesses, and importantly his or her temperament. What you do NOT want to face is a beat-down. Your first sessions are to familiarize you with the ring and getting a feel for throwing your punch combinations at a live, moving human being, rather than at your trainer’s mitts or the heavy bag.

Tricia Turton, training a young boxer at Cappy's GymA responsible trainer will make sure that you are appropriately matched with a person that is going to give you the flavor of the real thing as you find your comfort zone. That means you should expect to get hit, but not as if you were competing in the Golden Gloves. Again, what you are aiming for is the opportunity to exchange punches so that you can learn both offensive and defensive moves. What this means is that you are going to take some punches, but not hard, more like a tap to remind you to slip or otherwise defend yourself and prepare for your counter moves–not see stars.

When it comes to sparring, some trainers will take this role for themselves choosing to spar with students over several weeks or months to help perfect their student’s offensive and defensive ring skills before they let them spar with other boxers at the gym. Check with your trainer to see if this is a preference both of you share. In my opinion, unless you happen to be a phenom in the ring this is likely the safest method, especially for boxing students who only get to the gym once or twice a week.

11. Do not go it alone! If you trainer isn’t around, but your sparring partner is—do NOT spar! It’s as simple as that. You are working out with a trainer or coach for a reason: to learn the skills of the sport AND to stay safe. Sparring without your trainer in your corner is asking for trouble. Remember, your job is to protect yourself at all times and an inexperienced boxer sparring without a trainer in his or her corner is plain and simple NOT SAFE.

When you enter the ring to spar whether it’s for the first time or the 100th time, it is the real thing.

It is also a fact that many novice boxers are itching to spar from the moment they put on the gloves their very first day in the gym—sometimes to the point of throwing caution out the door.

After spending weeks, if not months, shadow boxing in front of the mirror and throwing jab, jab, right, slip, straight right, left hook combinations at your trainer’s pads the prospect of actually sparring can be very exciting indeed.

Sparring, though, is also a big responsibility for your sparring partner and for you—after all, you could get lucky and throw a left hook that connects beyond your wildest imagination. You also owe it to yourself to be mindful of the boxer’s credo to protect yourself at all times to which I will add an extra level of caution to say, when in doubt, sit it out.

And one more thing–if you DO get hit hard and your head hurts, you have difficulty seeing, you have a headache or lose consciousness, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. It is much, much better to be safe than sorry!

17
May
11

Things to do about boxing on a rainy day, read “The Sweetest Thing”!

Things to do about boxing on a rainy day, read The Sweetest Thing!

It seems as if the East Coast of the US is in for several more days of rain.  That might put a damper on roadwork, not to mention flare up old knee aches.  If you decide that inside is better than out and can’t bring yourself to watching yet another network TV show … First and foremost, get on over to your nearest bookstore, or try the internet version of “ring, ring” to buy Girlboxing friend Mischa Merz’s fabulous new book …

The Sweetest Thing: A Boxer’s Memoir.

Part memoir, part wonderful reportage, this must read book about women’s boxing inside and outside of the ring is as engaging as it is insightful about what it takes to be an elite athlete in the sport.

As Lucia Rijker wrote, The Sweetest Thing is, “A beautiful journal-like book [that] documents the ins and outs of female boxing from behind the scene.”

I think you’ll agree that Mischa has captured the heart and soul of the sport as she not only describes such things as the relationship between fighter and trainer, but what it takes to win and lose in a sport that has only recently started to garner a modicum of the respect it deserves.

Mischa is also one of the sport’s champions in her own right and has become an important voice in promulgating what is best about the sport.

So Girlboxing friends, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to hit your local bookseller (or online equivalent) to get a copy of Mischa’s book and start reading!

24
Apr
11

Inspiration

Inspiration.

Afghan Girl's Boxing Team

I’ve been in a back to the drawing boards phase for the past couple of days.  I likely should have just put up the “gone fishing” sign, but what I’ve really needed is to draw on some inspiration.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.  I have a friend in the throes of a tough fight against breast cancer.  She’s ridiculously young to be going through this sort of “shite,” but if you ever needed to move on from a “what’s this all about” moment — take a read through Mandy’s terrific Breastcancerography blog to put it all in perspective!

2.  Life got you down, try heaving 60+ extra pounds around during a four-round fight!

That was Sonya Lamonakis’ task when she fought Gigi Jackson last week — and somewhere from the depths, Sonya brought it forward.  Talk about inspiration — that’s how champions are made.  Finding the place in oneself where one can move past difficulty and seemingly insurmountable obstacles to succeed at the task at hand and if that’s not possible, walking away knowing that one did give it one’s all, which in my book is something to be just as proud of.

3.  Every time I get to the gym, someone catches my attention and I am riveted by the precision of their work and more importantly by their work ethic.  Sometimes it’s a trainer, explaining the nuance of a technique while at other times it’s a fellow gym denizen shadowing boxing in front of the mirror or heaving weights or doing sit-ups for the umpteenth time in a row.

Whatever it is keeps me coming back because I know that I’m part of the chain of a terrific community that inspires by showing up to do the work.  And whether it’s 6:00 in the morning or close to the end of the day, the da-da-da da-da-da of the speed bag gets into my soul like a heart beat that reminds me how much the gym can mean.

13
Feb
11

Getting back to basics: the boxing stance

Getting back to basics: the boxing stance

I had a terrific morning yesterday working out with Lennox Blackmore.  We spent four rounds on the focus pads on such fundamentals as clean doubled-up jabs which brought us all the way back to the beginning — the stance.   Yep, by sitting lower in my stance with my body angled forward, my jabs were crisper, my slips more economical and rights in the pocket with a nice hard “thwack” sound every time it hit the pad.

Once on the double-ended bag for my second set of four-rounds, I worked more and more on keeping my stance low and thereby really pushed out punches from my core.  And that, I realized, is the entire point of the stance.  Sure, a proper stance provides a boxer with the right amount of balance, but more fundamentally it allows a boxer to use his or her core energy and strength to throw punches that are swift and sure with an economy of movement that saves energy and shaves milliseconds off the time needed to connect.

Talk about a wow.

And that’s the thing about boxing.  Many training sessions follow a rout pattern of warm-up, training steps such as shadow boxing, focus pads, sparring, slip rope, heavy bag, double-ended bag, speed-bag and so on in whatever combination is being worked on that day, however, every once in a while, it all connects and boom — it comes together again in some new more fundamental way.

A lot like life, no?  One wanders along doing the same thing day after day and suddenly a thunderbolt hits and the pathway seems clearer.  And while it might be nice if every day was greeted with an epiphany of the day, the fact is there’s something down right sweet about finding it buried deep within the work.  Leastways, I find it to be the case.

30
Dec
10

Getting the jump on those pesky resolutions

Getting the jump on those pesky resolutions

Yep.  It’s that time of year again — when you need to confront all the coulda’, shoulda’ woulda’s from 2010 to write-up the “list” for 2011.

I will box every day!

In years past, I’ve run the gamut from writing them hung over on New Year’s Day, to thoughtfully considering them for days and weeks before the turn of the year.

To be honest, the New Year’s resolution list is often an afterthought somewhere around the 3rd of January.  By then of course, I’m in a decided catch-up mode which in turn can spiral into a state of New Year’s resolution anxiety if I’m not careful.

This year I’m trying something a little different.  I’ve started my New Year’s resolution two days early — with the goal of doing at least *one* physical thing every day.  Okay, sure, that can be tough, but with a hat tip to Conjuring My Muse, doing one activity — whether it’s one three-minute shadow boxing round in the living room or a full-on two-hour work out at the gym is achievable!  And like doing anything else every day — it’s gets to be a terrific habit.

So to keep true to that New Year’s vow, I threw on my sweats, grabbed my gear (some of it with that new leather smell — thanks, Santa!) and walked down to Gleason’s Gym.  The sweet part was being accompanied by my daughter — and while I must say that the work-out was tough as my latest lay-off has been way too long, I worked out just enough to feel terrific about making the effort. It also helped that she was there to cheer me on, especially when it came to the sit-ups.

I’m heading down to Gleason’s again tomorrow to work out with Lennox Blackmore with the hope that I’ll be able to throw in one or two extra rounds and a whole lot more ab-work.  And though the gym will be closed on New Year’s Day, there’s yoga, fast-walking or dancing to James Brown to keeping me going strong — least ways that’s the plan!

21
Nov
10

Sit-ups

Sit-ups.

So I went back to Gleason’s Gym yesterday and had a fabulous if slow, training session with Lennox Blackmore.  I managed to get through it all without needing to call for an ambulance and acquitted myself reasonably well, except for the sit-ups.

Talk about embarrassing…

Back in the day (all of three years ago), sit-ups became my favorite province.  I’d do my 100 with Lennox, and then start crunches, reverse bench sit-ups, or sitting on the sit-up bench doing 15-minute sit-up sets. Not that I ever developed a six-pack or any thing resembling even the slightest ripple, I did know that somewhere under my ample padding I was solid as a rock!  Plus, I knew that the core strength was there and even if I didn’t see the actual evidence of my work in the form of the aforementioned six-pack, my improved back strength, tighter stance, crisper jabs, hooks and upper-cuts proved it.

Well I’m here to tell the cautionary tale of use it or lose it!

I mean doing those sit-ups yesterday was painful, pitiful and beyond awful. Suffice to say it’s one of the parts to a work-out that can come back quickly, and doesn’t need any sort of fancy gym apparatus to do.

So … this morning, I hauled myself up nice and early, pulled out the pad and started doing crunches.  I took it nice and slow and while watching my favorite British police procedural on Netflix, did about 15 minutes worth.   I still ache – but, something did click, ‘cause while I may not be able to find the time I need to get to the gym, I can carve the time to do some sit-ups.  Well, at any rate, I’m going to try – so that next time I see Lennox I can at least get through the third set without stopping in the middle!




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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