February 9, 2012: Alicia Ashley is one of the most accomplished and revered female boxers that have ever played the sport.
Ashley was one of the first women to begin boxing professionally. And now, at age 44, she continues to dominate the sport, so much so, the Guinness Book of World Records is reviewing Ashley as the oldest active professional female boxer to hold a world championship.
Alicia Ashley was born in Jamaica on August 23, 1967. Her family moved to Brooklyn at age 11. Ashley grew up in Brownsville and she currently resides in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Marcus Garvey Boulevard.
Two powerful influences in her life have been her brothers: Maurice, the first and only black International Chess Grandmaster and Devon, her trainer and former 4-time World Kickboxing Champion.
Ashley’s nickname in and out of the ring is “Slick,” because of her stealth, quickness and grace. Spectators and fans often remark she looks like a dancer when she boxes, and that’s because her athletic beginning was, in fact, in dance.
After graduating high school, Ashley won several dance scholarships including to the renowned Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dance schools. She was training to become a professional dancer when a knee injury changed her life.
Under the influence of her brother, Devon, she began studying martial arts, to regain her strength. Mastering the craft, she earned a 3rd degree black belt and began competing. It was in this training she discovered a newfound love and respect for the art of hand-to-hand warfare.
She began kickboxing in April 1995, when she was already 27 years old. But that didn’t matter. Ashley compiled a 10-0-1 amateur record as a kick boxer. She then started training as a boxer. Within a matter of months, she went on to become the New York City Golden Gloves Champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998, and the USA Boxing National Amateur 125-lb gold medalist in 1997 and 1998.
Ashley became an accomplished amateur boxer. Her first international title came as a member of the first USA Women’s Boxing Team to win a gold medal.
Within four short years, Ashley was ready to make her professional boxing debut. In January 1999, she won the IWBF Featherweight and Super Bantamweight World title fights, which have been televised more than 10 times nationally. Women’s Boxing Archive Network named Ashley “Fighter of the Month‟ twice in the same year (April and June 2001), a first for women.
Most notable is that Ashley has remained one of the top-ranked fighters in the world for nearly a decade and a half, continuing to garner numerous accolades while maintaining her championship titles in her weight class.
Most recently, in July 23, 2011, she earned her 4th world title, becoming the new WBC Super Bantamweight Champion by defeating Christina Ruiz in a 10-round unanimous decision.
Anything Ashley touches, she seems to master. Outside the ring, “Slick” is just as passionate, dedicated to developing the self-esteem of girls and women in sports by serving as a keynote speaker and advocate. At the Gleason Gym in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where she still trains, she is heralded and respected as one of the best females to ever inter the sport.
And in March 2012, she will fight yet again to defend her 5th world title in Mexico City, Mexico, at the WBC Super Bantamweight Fight.
In what is considered a traditionally male sport, Alicia Ashley has garnered top billing as a world boxing champion. Her perseverance, drive and determination to excel in any area she touches, has established her as not only one of the best pound for pound female fighters in the world, but one of the best fighters, period.
Alicia Ashley, we acknowledge your dedication, perseverance and unwillingness to ever accept defeat. You make Bed-Stuy proud.