In-depth chat with Ashley Theophane – A True British Boxing Treasure

Ashley Theophane is a man who dances to the beat of his own drum when it comes to the boxing industry. While it may have limited some of his chances here in the UK, he has enjoyed a rounded, cultured career, scoping all corners of the globe leaving him with a fascinating story to tell as he prepares for a homecoming clash, years in the making, against the fan-friendly Sam Eggington.

Before we got on to clash with Eggington, I wanted to know how Theophane got involved in the sport.

“My dad is a fan of the sport so he used to watch the big American fights and I must have caught him watching it one day and I started asking if I could watch the big fights with him. He would get him up at 3am, then I’ll come downstairs to watch the fight.

So, that’s basically how I fell in love with the sport at five years old. I just loved to watch fights. So I asked my mum and dad if I could start going boxing. For about two years my mum said no and then when she saw that I kept going at it, she allowed me to go down to All Stars Gym on Harrow Road and I just had some much fun there on my first day. That was in 1988”.

Early days

While some of his friends would play football, Ashley was in the boxing gym honing his craft and it wouldn’t be long before that passion would turn into a profession. Looking at Ashley’s early record, it was clear that he approached the sport with that old-school mentality of taking on challenges without a desire to build a padded record.

“Because I didn’t have a big promoter behind me, I had to take risks to prove my worth and to get opportunities. A lot of people will hold it back and play safe until they get the big shot, whereas I had to take a chance to prove my worth.

It was weird, I wasn’t really getting any love here and I would go to America and spar with these world champions and do well. I would come back home and I wouldn’t get any love again. It was weird being at home and getting no love but then going to the USA and getting love in the gym”.

British Lightweight King

While he may have been frustrated with the progress, or lack thereof, he was able to make in the UK, the man known as Treasure did win the British lightweight title in 2011 against a credible opponent in Lenny Daws. I wanted to find out how much that meant to him.

“Winning the British is weird for me and I’ve got to be careful about what I say because I don’t want to get a fine! Basically, I’ve never really got respect here so, when I took that fight, I had just beaten the world number three in America, that same year I had just lost a split to Danny Garcia (yes, that Danny Garcia). So, when I came back for this fight, they were still saying that Daws was going to win. How can Daws beat me when I’ve just fought two guys on the world scene?

A lot of fans as well, they didn’t want me to win and they kept saying go back to America because I was saying that I was only going to win it and go back to the USA. Why would you be mad at me for wanting to go back to the USA to go and get the big fights? I can’t get the big fights here. So, I came back to prove the doubters wrong, the promoters that didn’t show me any love. Everyone, the fans who hadn’t shown me any love.

It was a hard fight and I like Daws, I think he was a good British fighter and he could have done more. I’m proud I was British champion but it was hard for me to train in America, sparring with all these names there and then to come home to fight guys who I had never seen fight before or heard of. So, finding the motivation for that was always hard.

When I did lose (to Darren Hamilton), a lot of the promoters and folks here were glad that I lost and they thought my career was over. But as I said live on Sky, bad decisions go down, I didn’t think I’d lost and I’m going back to the USA. They laughed at me. Then exactly a year went by and I joined with Mayweather Promotions. So, you know…”