DEVON: Years ago as a karate practitioner, I wanted to be able to use my hands better. My friend Michael Husbands, also a karateka, boxed at Gleasons under his then trainer, Shelvin. While sparring he kept punching me in the head & I had no idea how to get out of the way. That’s when I decided to also take that trip to Dumbo. I still wanted to continue kicking, so I worked with Fred Corritone, & Tony Aronow who not only thought me how to box, but got me 2 world titles as a kickboxer. I got my 3rd one with Hector Roca, who showed me some real intricate things about boxing. During my kickboxing years I was teaching my sister Alicia Ashley to box, & so when Bruce Silverglade asked me to be a resident kickboxing trainer at Gleason’s gym, there was no hesitation. I eventually gravitated to mainly teaching boxing, & guided Alicia to 4 professional World Titles, & trained a string of Golden Gloves winners.
LEFTJAB: Besides Heather Hardy have you trained anyone else?
DEVON: Current WBC Professional World Champion, Alicia “Slick” Ashley, 3 time Golden Gloves Champion Ruth “Ruthless” O’Sullivan & 2013 Golden Gloves 141 lbs. Champion, Paul “The Viper” Anthony, who though still an amateur, will be making as nice a splash in the boxing world as Heather did.
LEFTJAB: You and Heather Hardy seem like you work great together. How did you both meet?
DEVON: She came to Gleason’s to learn boxing with some kickboxing background, & was assigned to Alicia. She badly wanted to fight & with just a little over a month of training with her, she had her first bout. With strong determination & heart she fought hard, but the technique was lacking. After her 2nd amateur fight and another loss, she said, “I don’t want to lose anymore.” I saw how much she seriously wanted to box, & her promise to work hard on doing the things needed to make her boxing better, was all I had to hear. It was financially difficult for her as a single mom having to work crazy hours at multiple jobs. So I knew finding enough time for her daughter & getting in the proper training that was needed would not be easy. So I made an offer to her. That was when the partnership started. She began assisting me with the physical training of my clients, & eventually grew into an excellent boxer, respected trainer & full time partner at Gleason’s Gym.
LEFTJAB: What do you see in Heather Hardy’s future?
DEVON: I see Heather not only as another future World Champion, but also as a strong advocate for the equality of women’s boxing. She fights again on September 16th at the Resorts World Casino in Queens. You can check out her fan page for details at: Facebook.com/TheHeatHeatherHardy
LEFTJAB: What are your future plans in boxing?
DEVON: I plan to continue teaching the sport to the best of my ability. I try to get as much of the technical aspect of boxing across to my boxers in the shortest possible time. Many people can, & should enjoy the sport without feeling that because they didn’t start as a youngster, they should not be reaching for the stars. Heather has accomplished a lot in 3 years. After working with her for 6months she went to her first golden gloves finals & got silver. Within a year she won the Regionals in Lake Placid, & in 11 months the Nationals in Colorado Springs. She won the New York Golden Gloves after 18months. She was 28 years old when she started boxing. I was 40 when I won my first World Title. Don’t give up on your dreams.
LEFTJAB: What young fighters out of Gleason’s gym should we keep an eye out for?
DEVON: Paul Anthony. An 18 year old that I have been teaching for 2 years. He won the Golden Gloves this year in 141lbs. novice division. He is a product of the “Give a kid a Dream” (GAKAD) program sponsored by Gleason’s Gym. It is a non-profit organization run solely on donations and volunteers, formulated by Bruce Silverglade, the owner. Inner city kids are recommended to us by parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and parole officers in an effort to use the disciplines learned in boxing to keep them off the streets. With continued relentless efforts from Perry D’Alessio we have had great success. The Gleason’s group in Brooklyn is coached by both Heather Hardy & myself, along with the firm guidance of professional boxer & teacher Sonya Lamonakis. Jackie Atkins takes great care of the Gleason’s New Jersey group.
LEFTJAB: With Canelo vs Mayweather coming up soon, who do you see coming out victorious?
DEVON: I would give Mayweather the edge, because not only is his record impeccable, the experience factor counts tremendously. If this fight was in another year & a half, with Canelo winning 3 or 4 more high profile fights leading into this, we might be saying it could be a toss up. I think Saul is an extremely talented fighter, & still might eventually be the pound for pound king one day, but at this present time…..”Money” talks.