Ashley Dlamini by Pete Moscardi

Ashley Dlamini is a young man with an over-abundance of character and courage. The 27-year-old juniorlightweight, who fights out of Colin Nathan’s HotBox Gym, has had more than his fair share of adversities and has come through unscathed. Ashley, and his late brother, Bongani, who were born in Soweto, spent most of their childhood days being raised by their divorced mother in Bushbuck Ridge. Taking up the story, Ashley says: “I was six and Bongani was just two when we
moved to Bushbuck Ridge after my parents divorced. Our mum worked hard to send us to a private school and I started boxing when I was 16. My church ran an amateur boxing club and our trainer was a Filipino who was a pastor. Bongani joined the club a year later.”

At this stage it is relevant to mention that Bongani Dlamini was tragically killed
in a motor accident in September last year. Although fighting out of separate gyms, Bongani had established himself as an outstanding lightweight prospect and
had compiled a 9-2 record. The brothers, Ashley confirms, were extremely close and Bongani’s sudden death was a huge blow to try to overcome.

By the time Ashley had turned professional in July 2008 he had established an outstanding amateur career which included obtaining his national colours and representing South Africa in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia in the featherweight class. “I was first selected to represent the national team in 2004 and I continued my training under the team’s auspices in Pretoria,” he said. Among some of today’s leading professionals whom Ashley beat as an amateur were MacBute Sinyabe, over whom he scored three wins, Bongani Mahlangu and Molefe Matima. He was eliminated in the second round of the Commonwealth Games, losing to Sharif Boger from Uganda on a 51-33 decision.

Ashley did not have to give much thought as to who he wanted to be his trainer. “Quite a few of my amateur team-mates had joined Colin Nathan, with some of these including Hekkie Budler, Zolani Mohale and Jackson Chauke. So it was almost a home from home feeling,” he recalls. Ashley got off to a winning start with a four-round points victory over Vuyani Dosi at the Emperor’s Palace, going on to notch up a further two wins in 2008.

Ashley describes the best win in his 11-2-1 career as being his last fight – an
eight-round points victory over Joseph Modise on a Golden Gloves promotion at the Moreleta College hall in Makapanstad in the North West Province. “Modise was a
tough customer and knew his way around the ring. There was a wildly enthusiastic
capacity crowd in the hall and we both wanted to give our best to entertain them.
It was quite a war but I managed to get the unanimous decision,” he says.

Ashley is being asked to lay it all on the line in his next fight which will be on 26
March on an African Ring promotion at Emperor’s Palace. His opponent will be the formidable Warren Joubert – a fight which represents Ashley’s toughest to date. “Warren is going to be a very tough opponent to beat. However, if I can pull off a win I will feel ready to challenge for a South African title,” he says.

His trainer gives Ashley an enthusiastic appraisal when he says: “He has two
outstanding qualities – his loyalty and his charisma. The former is a rarity in boxing. He has never been in a dull fight and has really developed over the past six months. We are going into the Joubert fight feeling that it has come at the right time and we are both confident of getting the win.”

Ashley prefers the quiet life and lives in Lyndhurst with Lerato, his steady girlfriend of three years. “My ultimate aim is to win the top belt in boxing and to be a role model to young aspiring boxers,” he says.