History tends to favor the winners—especially sports and military history. It’s for good reason: they’re winners, champions. However, every once in a while, we hear about those who came close. The perennial contender and champion. Leeds’s own Crawford Ashley is one such boxer, a true fighter who often took his bouts on short notice.
Born May 20, 1964, in Leeds as Gary Crawford, the man known as “Chilling” in boxing circles was an opposing figure at 6’3. Before entering the squared circle professionally, he took the name, Crawford Ashley. His first match in March 1987 was a knockout victory over the future two-time oldest active boxer, Steve Ward.
At the time Ward was towards the end of his initial career as a pugilist with a career that was 15-37-3. Crawford Ashley followed this win up with another KO victory a month later. Following a loss in September 1987 to Glazz Campbell, he mounted another winning streak only to be stopped by future longest reigning WBO Cruiserweight Champion, Johnny Nelson.
He won his first title after defeating the BBBofC Central Area Light Heavyweight title from Carl “The Cat” Thompson. The Cat would also move on to the World Middleweight title in 1995. He successfully defended the title and earned a chance to win the vacant EBU European Light Heavyweight title.
Through the 1990s
He was stopped by the undefeated “Rocky” Graciano Rocchigiani in his February 1991 effort and even broke his hand in the bout. That July he took the vacant BBBofC British Light Heavyweight title. A little over four years after Glazz Campbell gave him his first loss, he defeated him via knockout in a match over the British title.
September of that year saw him fail to capture the vacant EBU European Light Heavyweight belt a second time, this time in a loss to Yawe Davis. Crawford Ashley would get his first shot at a world title in April 1993, losing to WBA Super Middleweight champion Michael Nunn.
After gaining weight and returning to the light heavyweight ranks, Ashley would capture his second BBBofC British Light Heavyweight title in November 1994, defeating Nicky Pipes for the vacant title. April 1995 saw him fail in a second attempt to claim world gold as WBA World Light Heavyweight champion Virgil Hill stopped his chances.
This loss wouldn’t spell the end of Crawford Ashley’s career. While he normally floated within the middleweight to light heavyweight ranks, he knew that he was at his most effective at the heavier end of the scale. In the rest of the 1990s would prove very interesting for this “Chilling” champion.