The gym floor is packed.
Fans watch proudly as they see the player with the number 23 jersey climb the ladder to the basketball hoop. She takes the scissors, snips a piece of the net off and grasps it tightly in her hands.
Now a tiny piece of a basketball net may mean nothing to the average person, but to senior shooting guard Ashleigh Curry — who will be sporting number 33 this year — it holds many memories of her junior year at Missouri Western when her team beat Northwest Missouri State to win the MIAA Championship in 2007.
Unfortunately, due to NCAA eligibility violations, the wins for the season were vacated. Regardless, the sports management major is still proud of that season and will always remember it. After the incident, however, Curry took some time away from basketball for academic purposes and ended up falling into a different sport: boxing.
Curry, who is from Houston, Texas, never thought she would be asked to box in a match when she went to the gym with one of her friends. Galen Brown, Curry’s current boxing trainer, approached Curry and wondered if she would fight the upcoming weekend. Brown said nobody wanted to fight the woman she would have to face. Like a true competitor, she agreed.
“Her first fight, she didn’t even have any ring experience,” Brown said. “I asked her if she wanted to fight, she said ‘yeah.’ She hadn’t even trained.”
She lost her first fight to Melisenda Perez on May 8, 2009. The match ended in a minute, but she didn’t hang up the gloves just yet.
“She’s a tough girl,” Brown said.
Tough is right. Most people would assume a boxer’s favorite part about fighting is knocking out their opponent, but Curry is quite the opposite.
“I like getting hit,” Curry said. “It doesn’t really hurt; the whole technique is to roll with the punches.”
Although Curry was defeated by Perez the first time, she worked on her technique. She fought Perez two more times, the second time being a draw and the third time ending in a Curry victory.
Curry had improved so much that a week after she beat Perez, she had her first knockout when she fought Jessica Wilson. The match only lasted 41 seconds, a match which she considers one of the highest points of her boxing career.
Curry went from knocking down treys to knocking down other women.
While Curry was pleased with her performance, she didn’t necessarily enjoy hurting Wilson. Curry mainly practices with men, so it’s a whole different story when throwing punches at women.
“When I spar in boxing, I spur with all guys, and I go as hard as I can,” Curry said. “With girls, I take everything lightly. [When I knocked Wilson out,] I felt bad. I was like ‘I’m so sorry.’”
Curry is a sort of kindhearted boxer. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? She doesn’t call herself a “kindhearted boxer” by any means, but she does like to think of herself as something along those lines.
“I’m a boxer, but I’m not a fighter,” Curry said.
As of now, according to boxrec.com, Curry’s record remains 3-6-2. It may look like a losing record, but Curry has fought women who are ranked much higher and have more experience than she does. Curry is currently ranked 18th in the world and 6th in the U.S. in the Female Lightweight division.
Now that Curry is back for her last year at Western, she won’t be fighting as much. However, this doesn’t bother her, because she will more than likely pick back up where she left off in boxing after this season. For now though, she is eager to get back to her favorite sport and is ready to prove she is the same player from back in 2007.
“Personally, I don’t think I’ve lost anything from when I played last,” Curry said. “I’m still the same to me. I just need to get my timing and quickness back.”
While Curry was boxing, she maintained her basketball skills by playing pickup games, and it showed at the Tip-Off Party Tuesday as she hit the first three of the game and passed the ball with style. Curry, who considers herself “goofy” when she’s on the court, isn’t the only one looking forward to her season. Coach Lynn Plett is also interested in seeing how she will progress through the season, considering her last season was a couple years ago.
But nonetheless, Plett believes Curry will be a great asset to the team.
“She’s a good player and will give some good leadership this season.”