Ashley Adams didn't anticipate hall-of-fame Golden Gloves legacy


Alicia Ashley always envisioned life as a dancer.

But a devastating knee injury altered those plans, moving her life out of the dance studio and into the ring. And what seemed like a curse would turn out to be a blessing for Ashley, who became one of the most prolific female boxers in Daily News Golden Gloves tournament history.

“I wanted to be a professional dancer. I was dancing six to eight hours a day,” Ashley said. “When I tore my meniscus it totally curtailed my dancing.”

After the injury, Ashley finished her degree in computer systems at Baruch College — then turned to her oldest brother, Devon, for advice. Knowing that she wanted to stay in shape, he suggested martial arts.

“My brother is a black belt and always wanted me to get into karate,” she said.

Ashley tried karate and kickboxing.

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“I don’t get hit,” Ashley said. “It’s not my style.”

(Marino, Joe)

“My first kickboxing fight was against a boxer. In kickboxing, you only have to kick eight times and then you don’t have to kick anymore,” Ashley said. “Basically, they would always tell the person to get those kicks off, and then they would box. Whenever my opponent would get on the inside, I didn’t know what to do. After that fight, I was like, ‘I have to get my hands better.’ That’s when I got into boxing, to get my hands better for kickboxing. Then, I found out I really enjoyed boxing.

“Once I was in boxing, I loved the strategy of it. For me, it’s more than just punching the person. It’s about controlling where the fight goes.”

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductee views boxing like dancing. “It’s always a performance. It’s enjoying the audience.”

Ashley won three consecutive Golden Gloves titles in the 125-pound division, from 1996 through 1998.

“The Golden Gloves had a certain prestige to it,” she said. “I would come to the gym in the morning before work and then train afterwards, prior to going home. There was a certain discipline in the training.”

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Ashley (l.) takes pride in her ability to dodge a punch.

(Simmons, Howard)

Ashley went on to have a tremendous professional career, capturing five world titles. She credits the Golden Gloves for preparing her for many of the boxing styles she’d see as a pro.

“Back then, you never knew who you were fighting,” she said. “Fighting in the Golden Gloves really helped me because there were all different types of fighters.”

Now 49, Ashley is still boxing. She is the oldest woman to hold a world title. She attributes her longevity in the sport to her slick, graceful style. “I don’t get hit. It’s my style,” she said. “I’ve never been knocked down. The injuries that I sustain never happen in the ring, nothing that I can attribute to boxing.”

Ashley has been one of the pioneers for the Golden Gloves women’s division. “I have met a lot of women who say they respect me and are inspired by me as fighter.”

Ashley is also a trainer at Gleason’s Gym. “I have a lot of female amateur competitors. I’ve had one win the Golden Gloves before and another make it to the finals. It’s gratifying to share this knowledge that I have. It’s not just the girls that compete in the Golden Gloves, I have all the other girls that I help in the gym. It’s great watching the next generation achieve what I have done.”

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