World's Oldest Female Boxing Champ Isn't Hanging Her Gloves Up Yet
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
To the boxing world now and a champ who does not plan to hang up her gloves anytime soon, as of this week, Alicia Ashley is officially boxing's oldest female champion. She's 48. She holds the world super bantamweight title, and she insists that her age is no deficit.
ALICIA ASHLEY: I don't feel like I'm 48. I've been an athlete all my life, so whenever it is, what your body tells you is when it's time to quit.
KELLY: The boxer that you beat to claim the super bantamweight title was an Irish fighter named Christina McMahon.
ASHLEY: Right, and she was 42.
KELLY: Yeah, I read that she was also in her 40s. Is that more common than I realized?
ASHLEY: I think so. One of the reasons is that boxing wasn't open to women as, you know, younger. Like, when I started, I was 28, so we haven't really had that much impact on our bodies like the guys do.
KELLY: Does it get tougher to stay in shape?
ASHLEY: I've actually found that it's a little bit easier now. As I've aged and I've been in this game for so long, I maintain almost the way that I'm fighting. I can just focus on my training as opposed to focus on losing weight.
KELLY: What about quickness and reflexes? I mean, that's something we associate with younger athletes and assume that it must be degrading somehow as people age. Have you found that at all?
ASHLEY: It probably does. I know that I'm not as mobile as when I first started, but I actually don't need to move as much. I see things that are coming, and I think my knowledge of the sport helps in that sense that my body just reacts.
KELLY: There's been a lot of talk, I know, with Peyton Manning. Do you think aging athletes always know when to hang on and when to call it quits?
ASHLEY: I think they do. For him - and I love Peyton Manning - he has so much knowledge that now you don't have to rely so much on his arm. You have to rely on the other people, and I think he knows how to do that. So even at his age, that's the thing that he has that the younger, you know, quarterbacks don't.
KELLY: It sound like you're saying whether you're attacking football or boxing, experience can trump quickness.
ASHLEY: It can. It definitely can.
KELLY: That fight that we mentioned against Christina McMahon that you won, it was heavily promoted, got media attention. I wonder, is that important to you for female athletes?
ASHLEY: You know, it's funny because when I got into this sport, I had no interest in boxing. I was a dancer, and I just happened to be in this sport. And I started falling in love with it because I saw females on television. There was Christy Martin. There was Laila Ali. There was Ann Wolfe versus Vonda Ward with a fabulous fight. There were actually more females on television than they're showcasing now here in America. In Mexico, every show that they put on, there is a female fight on. In Argentina, it's the same way. Everywhere else that I've gone and fought - and I've fought all around the world. And even though I've headlined here in USA and New York, it's not shown on television.
KELLY: Thanks so much.
ASHLEY: Thank you.
KELLY: That's Alicia Ashley. She's 48, she holds the Guinness world record for oldest female boxing champion, and she's not stopping yet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.