Standfirst: Although boxer Ashley Theophane is the British light-welterweight champion, his roots firmly lie in the small Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.
The globetrotting 31-year-old has a record of 31 wins (nine knockouts) and four losses, and has competed in America, Britain, Germany and even Saint Lucia, the country of his father’s birth.
Nicknamed ‘Treasure’, Theophane won a British title eliminator back in 2007 but would have to wait four years for his opportunity to fight for the prestigious Lonsdale belt, which is boxing’s oldest championship.
Instead of complaining about the lack of opportunity or giving up, Theophane continued to persevere and based himself inAmerica. He has since gone on to build a fearsome reputation for himself.
Hernandez in November 2007 at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in Gros Islet; a contest that he fondly remembers.
Theophane explains: “That was an amazing experience. I hope to fight there again before I retire. The whole island was backing me and I delivered. My fight in Saint Lucia was very emotional for me as I have so much family there and I feel like I represent the island all over the world. I tried to fight for Saint Luciaas an amateur but they did not have a team in place back then. Hopefully one day I can open an Ashley Theophane gym there.”
He continued: “I’ve been to Saint Lucia three times and had a fantastic experience on all three times. I must say, I hate that they call me English. When I’m in England, I class myself as Saint Lucian but when I go back home, they call me English!
“My father was born in Saint Lucia in a town called Canaries. My mother is half Jamaican and half Irish. She was born in England. I was brought up around my Saint Lucian family so I have always classed myself as a British-born Saint Lucian.”
While at the time relocating to the United States was a life-changing and risky option for the Kilburn, north London native, he hails the move as a key factor as to why he has been so successful.
“Fighting and sparring all over the world has been amazing,” stated Theophane.
“I feel blessed to be living my childhood dream. Some people say I am lucky. Luck has nothing to do with it. I have worked hard and stayed dedicated. When many people did not believe in me, I did.”
Following on from victory against Hernandez, Theophane battled against world-class opponents such as DeMarcus Corley, Danny Garcia and Delvin Rodriquez before finally getting his chance to fight for the British 10 stone title on February 2011 at the Wembley Arena in London.
Theophane triumphantly defeated Lenny Daws via a unanimous points verdict over 12 rounds to capture what had once been so elusive.
Reflecting on the result, Theophane commented: “I was ecstatic to prove to the British boxing establishment that I was the real deal as they never really supported me. I had to do it with the whole establishment against me. The British Boxing Board of Control didn’t back me when I won my eliminator in 2007.
“After I beat Lenny Daws, promoters Frank Warren, Ricky Hatton, Frank Maloney, Eddie Hearn and Mick Hennessey all showed interest in signing me. How times have changed.”
Prior to Theophane becoming British champion, the first Saint Lucian Lonsdale belt title holder was Sylvester Mittee, who was also a British 10 stone champion. A former Commonwealth and Southern Area titlist, Mittee won the British title back in 1985.
“Other than me he isSaint Lucia’s most decorated professional fighter. When I found out about Sylvester I got some of his big fights on DVD and he was a good fighter. Hopefully I can continue where he left off and putSaint Luciaon the world map of professional boxing.”
Away from the ring, Theophane actively gives back to the community by undertaking charity work, which is a task that he holds dear. Whether it is talking to children in schools or raising funds for charities such as the British Heart Foundation, Theophane is a firm believer in helping others.
“Everyone needs support, inspiration and motivation. Even more if you come from a disadvantaged background. Someone like me was never supposed to achieve so much but I did it against the odds and I am not even finished yet. People not believing in me, makes me work harder just to prove them wrong. As long as you work hard, you can make anything possible. I feel like I’m representing my community so I do all I can do to show love and support when I can.”
One more successful defence of the British title will mean that Theophane can keep the coveted Lonsdale belt outright and, having signed a promotional deal with former world champion Ricky Hatton that begins in 2012, Theophane’s own world title ambitions remain a genuine possibility.
“I want to win a world title and fight the world’s best. I have 31 wins at the minute and my target is to retire at 50 wins so I see me being a professional fighter for six more years. I believe I am as good as anyone in my weight division I just need the opportunities to show everyone I am the real deal.
“If I can do what I am doing, anyone can. You just have to work for it.”
*To keep up to date with Ashley’s progress, follow him on Twitter @ashleytheophane, on Facebook – Ashley Treasure Theophane – or alternatively on his website www.ashleytheophane.com
By Ben Lettman