Alicia Ashley in the ring to win back her WBC Title on 10/29/2015
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.
At 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 Titlebelt 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 AvilaIBF 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.
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….
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.
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.
Alicia “Slick” Ashley, “Q and A” ahead of her 5/21/2014 Bout!
Alicia “Slick”Ashley(20-9-1) is a four-time world champion and current reigning WBC Female Super Bantamweight Title holder. At 46 years of age she’s also a phenomenon in the ring who consistently out-points and out-maneuvers her opponents, some of whom are more than half her age. She’ll be facing Nohime Dennisson (5-3-2) in a six-round non-title fight on Uprising Promotions’ Future Stars fight card, Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at the Five Star Banquet Hall in Long Island City, Queens. A last-minute addition to the card includes a super featherweight bout between Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano(20-1-1) versus Belinda “Brown Sugar” Laracuente (26-28-3) in what is certain to be an exciting bout.
Ahead of her fight, Alicia kindly agreed to a Q&A session with Girlboxing. Here’s what she had to say:
1. At 46, you are the WBC female super bantamweight title holder and still going very, very strong! Tell us about your upcoming fight on Thursday, May 21st at the Five Star Banquet in Long Island City, NY.
I am fighting Nohime Dennisson, a woman 12 years my junior. This for me is a chance to get back into the ring and stay busy. That in no way means that this is an easy fight. Nohime has an unconventional style that sometimes confuses her opponents. I’m planning on utilizing my experience to maintain control in the ring.
Alicia “Slick” Ashley handily defeated Zenny Sotomayor in Tijuana, Mexico, October 2013
2. In your last outing, you defended your WBC title against Zenny Sotomayor in Tijuana winning by TKO in the 5th round. Given that she was so much younger, what was your key to staying on top?
At this junction due to my age my opponents tend to be a decade or two younger than I am. With that in mind, my experience in the ring is the key. The phrase ‘youth is wasted on the young’ always comes to mind whenever I step into the ring. Other than my opponents being more energetic, I believe that I’m more well-rounded in my boxing ability. They might be more energetic but it doesn’t mean they have more stamina or are as smart.
3. Having turned pro in 1999, and having fought such superstar female boxers as Bonnie Canino (who is about to be inducted into the first class of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame), Laura Serrano, Layla McCarter and Argentina’s Marcela Elena Acuna with whom you have a 2-1 record–in Argentina, what would you say are the changes you’ve experienced in the sport.
For me, the caliber of boxers have gotten better only in the sense that more women are taking advantage of the amateurs to hone their skills. Currently boxers turning pro have more amateur fights than I have amateur and pro fights combined! Its great seeing the influx of females in the gym and the fact that coaches take them seriously, which was a big problem when I started boxing.
Alicia “Slick” Ashley moves out of range against Elena Reid, March 23, 2005. Photo Credit: Mary Ann Owen
4. Your known as “Slick” in the ring — and watching you fight is truly a clinic in the art of defensive boxing. What have been the keys to your longevity in the sport?
Exactly that, my defense. I’ve spent years honing my defense with over 238 rounds boxed and never knocked down. Earlier in my career my legs was my focal point but now its body movement and efficiency.
5. Your career has spanned a generation of female fighting and more, and yet the promise of female boxing as a staple of ESPN, Showtime and HBO has fallen off the map–even as it has gained in popularity and visibility in places like Mexico, Argentina and Germany. In your view what accounts for this disparity and what has to happen to elevate the sport in the US.
It is simple. Promoters have to realize that there is money to be made and add women to the card. All the other countries that feature women on their television cards reap the benefits. The fights are generally highly competitive match-ups and tend to be fight of the night. I’ve traveled the world to fight and those fights are usually the main event. Why is it that the USA, supposedly the most progressive country in the world, is so far behind other countries in supporting their female boxers?
6. As a case in point, even though you first won your WBC super bantamweight title in the United States when you defeated Christina Ruiz by unanimous decision in 2011, your last three title defenses have been in Mexico, Panama and Mexico respectively. What would you say are the biggest challenges to putting on a title defense in the United States?
The challenges will always be the people that put on the shows. If they don’t get behind the women boxers with money and coverage then there will be less defenses here. Not only am I the main event in those countries but I’m paid way better than if I fought in the US. So other than for my fans, why would I fight here? If I was male and a 4-time world champion I wouldn’t have to need a day job to survive. This continued disparity is holding the women back and its definitely time to change.
7. Aside from your work as a professional boxer, you are one of the premier trainers at Gleason’s Gym teaching men and women the art of the sweet science. If you do ever retire from the ring, will your life still revolve around the sport?
I definitely will continue to work in some capacity in boxing. I enjoy imparting my knowledge on the next generation of boxers be it competitors or individuals who just want to get the most enjoyment out of a workout.
8. What would you say are the biggest changes in the sport for women that you’ve seen — and do you have hope that more opportunities will open up? In other words, do you have any last inspiring words for young women who may have caught the boxing bug?
I believe the biggest change was made on the amateur level. There are so many more opportunities for women to compete than when I first stepped into the sport. In fact, I am proud to say that I won the very first US Women’s National featherweight championship and now they finally include women in the Olympics. I always want women who express an interest in pursuing the sport to be aware that it can be the most exhilarating feeling to win but the defeats can also be gut wrenching. This sport is not just physical but mental and it builds or breaks individuals. This is a sport you cannot do halfheartedly. Make sure you enjoy it!
Happy Valentine’s Day @ the Women’s Boxing Fights!
Mako Yamada newest WBO Champion. Photo: Ulysses Sato and Aaron Jang
This was a big upset, Mako Yamada (7-0, 2-KOs) defeated defending title-holder Su-Yun Hong (9-1, 5-KOs) for the WBO Female Minimum Weight championship fight! The bout was held on Sunday, February 9, 2014 in the city of Chuncheon, South Korea. Yamada, a 19-year-old from Fukuoka, Japan, won by split decision with a decided body attack in the early going, and came out on top with scores 97-93, 96-94 in her favor and 97-96 for Kong. You be the judge!
Next up, the main event! The WBC Female Super Bantamweight women’s boxing champion, Alicia “Slick” Ashley (20-9-1, 2-KOs) in her WBC title defense against Zenny Sotomayor (10-5-2, 8-KOs). At age 46, Alicia Ashley is all the more remarkable for her longevity in the realm of professional boxing and for her extraordinary exploits in the ring over a professional career that began 15 years ago in 1999. In her fight against Sotomayor held in Las Pulgas, Tuijuan, Mexico, on October 23, 2013, Ashley won by TKO at 1:43 in the fifth round.
AND THE WINNER IS … ALICIA “SLICK” ASHLEY, by decision. The judges scored the bout 99-92, 98-92 and 99-91.
Alicia Ashley landing a right hand against challenger Maria Elena Villalobos on 3/17/2012 to retain her WBC Title, Photo: Alma Montiel
Alicia “Slick” Ashley Defending WBC Super Bantamweight Title against Maria Elena “The Rush” Villalobos on March 17, 2012
Brooklyn’s own Alicia “Slick” Ashley (17-9-1, 1-KO) and currently the oldest female world champion in boxing will be defending her WBC Super Bantamweight championship against challenger Maria Elena “The Rush” Villalobos (12-4-1, 5-KO) on March 17, 2012 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Alicia "Slick" Ashley training in Mexico for her March 17, 2012 WBC Superbantamweight Title Fight., Credit: Boxing de Gala
Renowned for her “Slick” boxing style, Ashley, a former dancer and kickboxer brings extraordinary boxing skills, agility and style to the ring with a southpaw’s propensity for catching her opponents off-guard. As a denizen of Gleason’s Gymin Dumbo, Brooklyn Ashley, 44, not only trains with a dedication that runs rings around men and women half her age, but is also a talented trainer and coach in her own right, bringing her “Slick” brand of saavy boxing to fighters who have gone on to win titles in their own right.
Maria Elena "The Rush" Villalobos, Credit: Bob Cruz
Maria Elena “The Rush” Villalobos, 39, is also no stranger to the ring having successfully defended her WBC Silver Female Super Bantamweight Title since last July 2011.
While a skilled orthodox fighter, she has not fought the level of competition that Ashley has fought. Villalobos has been reported as stating that she will look to take Ashley with a KO. She also hopes that her hometown advantage will give her the added impetus to take the fight.
Given Ashley’s skill and propensity to fight an outside/inside game, Villalobos will have her certainly have to work hard to catch a victory.
The fight is scheduled for ten rounds and will be Ashley’s first defense of her title since her decisive win over Christina Ruiz in July 2011 by decision.
Maria Elena Villalobos interview about her upcoming bout with Alicia Ashley from YouTube (in Spanish):
Championship boxing in the 109 weight division will pit Mexico’s Irma “Guerita” Sanchez (19-5-1, 5KO’s) against Panamanian Carlota Santos (5-2-3, 4KO’s) in a battle for the WBF female flyweight belt. Fighting on the “Puños de Hierro” card promoted by HG Boxing and Hector Garcia, Sanchez is attempting to make history by being the first female Mexican boxer to hold two world championships across two weight divisions. The fight will be held tonight at the Coliseo Olimpico de Guadalajara, Jalisco. The fights will be broadcast in Mexico by Televisa — and my guess is we’ll be able to catch fight the on streaming video as well as a YouTube posting a few days after the fight.
World Title Middleweight Belt in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad!
Tori Nelson (3-0-1) of Ashburn, Virginia will be flying down to Trinidad to face Las Vegas fighter, Lorissa Rivas (4-1, 3KO’s) to compete for the 10-round World Title Middleweight belt @ the Jean Pierre Sports Complex in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobego on July 29, 2011. The 10-round bout will be on the same card as the 12-round championship fight for the vacant 147 lb., WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE) title pitting Rumanian born, Montreal-based fighter Jo Jo Dan (28-1, 15KO’s) against Trinidad and Tobego’s own Floyd Trumpet (16-8-2, 9KO’s).
In a nice piece by writer Jeff Schneider, Nelson is quoted as saying,”I knew that God was going to bless me with an opportunity to be a world champion, but never this quick. I know boxers who have fought longer and haven’t had a chance. This is a dream come true and truly a blessing.” The full feature article about Tori Nelson in Leesburg Today is here. There’s no word on whether the bout will be broadcast.
Tonight! “Knock Out Cancer” fight card with Alicia “Slick” Ashley taking on Christina Ruiz for the vacant WBC Female Super Bantamweight World Title at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, NY! If you can’t get to the fight — you can find it streaming onGoFightLive TV for $9.99. The proceeds go to fight cancer — as worthy a cause as you could ever find. The link is here.
Two Great Upcoming July Women’s Bouts from Gleason’s Own!
Two great female boxer’s out of Gleason’s Gym will be showcasing their considerable talents in the ring this month!
Alicia “Slick” Ashley
The July 23rd “Knock Out Cancer” boxing show at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx will feature none other than Alicia “Slick” Ashley (16-9-1, 1KO) in a bout against Christina Ruiz (6-3-1, 4KO’s) for the vacant WBC Female Super Bantamweight World Title. promoted by Joe DeGuardia’sStar Boxing to aid in the fight against cancer, the event promises to be exciting! Ruiz is coming off her knockout win over Emily Klinefelter that sent Klinefelter to the hospital — and Gleason’s own Ashley, a 13 year veteran of the sport is quoted as saying, “It would be phenomenal to win my 4th world title, especially in New York with my friends, family and fans lending support in what should be an exciting boxing match.”
Tickets for this exciting event can be purchased by contacting Gleason’s Gym (718-797-2872 – credit cards accepted) prices are set at $50, $75 and $100. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the first bout is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. Hunts Point Market is located at 772 Edgewater Road, Bronx, NY 10474
Keisher “Fire” Mcleod-Wells
Keisher "Fire" Mcleod-Wells, Credit: Andrea Mohin/NY Times
Fresh off her stint filming the upcoming Mexican reality TV show Todas Contra México, Keisher Mcleod-Wells (4-1) will be returning to the ring for none other than an eight-round New York State Flyweight Title Championship bout on July 30, 2011. Fire is taking on the current NYS Champion, Melissa “Mighty” McMorrow (5-2-3) in a rematch of their February 9th bout.
The event is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and will be held at The Aviator Sports & Event Center @ Floyd Bennet Field, 3149 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn New York.
Ticket information for this championship event can be purchased by contacting Gleason’s Gym (718-797-2872 – credit card accepted). Pricing for tickets: $55 (General Standing), $75 (Seating), $125 (Ringside), $1,500 (VIP Table: 10 persons/Table).