Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a picture of a female fighter. I was ecstatic. I have only known of three female boxers in the area. I was intrigued and went trolling. What I discovered was Ashley Burns, one of Nashville’s top female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters. MMA is a mixture of fighting styles including Muay Thai, boxing, and jiu jitsu.
When I think of fighters, I think of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, or Sugar Ray Leonard. Those guys trained for years, sacrificing their time, personal life, and body, pushing their mental and physical strength beyond imagination, going the distance and sometimes proudly taking a defeat on the path to victory. I can only wonder what it is like to be brave enough to challenge a fearless war machine and not be intimidated.
Many successful boxers and professional fighters live luxurious lives and compete in the biggest venues. Unfortunately, those privileges are predominantly awarded to male fighters, and that’s why I think Ashley Burns is Hot. Ashley Burns is one of the dedicated women ushering in a new era of MMA fighters.
Burns was born and raised in Nashville. Growing up as an only daughter with two brothers, she spent her youth playing basketball and soccer (including traveling teams). Burns is not only an athlete, she is a mother and musician. Before getting into the ring, Ashley was in an all-female band.
While on a break from music, Ashley walked into a Muay Thai gym, and she was captivated. Since that moment, she has been hooked.
O&AN: Did you study martial arts at a young age?
Ashley Burns: I wish I had! Probably would have kept me out of trouble. I have been training for a little over three years now.
O&AN: Do you hold any titles?
AB: I was the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) silver medalist 60kg, and the World Kickboxing Association (WKA) silver medalist 57 kgs. In 2015 I’m going for gold!
O&AN: Where do you train?
AB: Bonafyde MMA
O&AN: What is your biggest challenge in the ring and life?
AB: Time! I want to do it all, and some things require more of my time than others so it’s always a battle for balance. I do my best!
O&AN: How do you overcome objectives in the Ring?
AB: Each time I get in there, it unveils something new. I try to stay focused and in the moment and feel the energy in the ring.
O&AN: Who is your biggest influence? Your favorite fighter?
AB: That’s hard to pick with such admirable female athletes in the world. I think we all share a common chord and influence the pot. [But my favorites are] Masato or Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
O&AN: Would you describe your average day?
AB: I send my kid to school, go to work, and on my break run or strength train. After work I go to the gym and train for two hours, then go home, watch a movie with my son, and do it all again! My days off work are still training days, so technically, I don't think I really have a day off? Ha!
O&AN: Would you describe your first time in the ring? How does fighting make you feel?
AB: What a mad rush! I had no idea what to expect and had loads of bruises! I couldn’t wait to do it again! [How I feel] evolves as I evolve. I feel accomplished when I carry out my strategy, when I come short I’m frustrated and go back to the drawing board.
O&AN: What are your goals as a fighter?
AB: I always wanted to be a professional athlete when I was younger, and to have that opportunity again is exciting to say the least. I’m going for gold next year. I’ll also be doing some strictly boxing as well.
O&AN: Do you compete in other fighting styles?
AB: I have done Muay Thai and k1/kickboxing, as well as international rules.
O&AN: What are your biggest accomplishments?
AB: I played in an all-girl thrash punk band that was signed to an independent label, and then winning silver in the WAKO finals in Toronto Canada. I fought up in weight and had tough opponents.
O&AN: Are you involved with any charities?
AB: I’m an ambassador for an anti bullying campaign, Rise Up Against Bullying, headed by Redemption Martial Arts’ owner, Mark.