Afro-Métis Muay Thai fighter ‘frustrated’ that she’s not on Canada’s team

Ashley Viner is an international champion in the sport.

Since February, Ashley Viner, an Afro-Métis Muay Thai fighter from Winnipeg, has been able to call herself the reigning International Welterweight Champion of the World through Ignite Fights promotions after her bout in Minnesota.

Viner won in a unanimous decision – but she hasn’t been able to win over officials at Muaythai Canada.

She’s ranked number one in Canada by the Muay Thai World Cup and is sanctioned by the World Boxing Council.

“I’m hoping that this [most recent win] will open up those doors to show that I am a contender in Canada,” she tells APTN News. “I have fought internationally, I’m ranked number one, so why am I not getting the fights that I should be getting and why is USA picking me up before my own country is?”

Viner says she’s recently received offers from the United States. APTN has reached out to Muaythai Canada but has yet to hear back.

Muay Thai is similar to the sport of boxing but uses fists, elbows, shins and knees to fight.

“You need a team to get you there, you need a team to train with, but it’s you in the ring at the end of the day,” says Viner. “Confidence is huge – people don’t realize how much the mental aspect of fighting plays into it and it really, really does.”

What initially started as a way to get exercise after pregnancy and training at her cousin’s gym, Viner, 36, says Muay Thai soon became a way of life.

“At [30-years-old] my goal was to get into the ring. I won and went undefeated for eight fights,” Viner says.

Viner, who is Black and Métis, now holds many championship titles. She’s a two-time world champion through the Thai Boxing Association, a current North American Welterweight Champion through Arena Awards, and has added her newest title of International Welterweight Champion of the World through Ignite Fights to her list of accolades.

But her road to her latest championship has been tough.

“In 2023, I had fought six times and I had lost all six of my fights. I had three championship fights and I lost all three, so I was mentally feeling defeated,” she says.

She contemplated whether she should keep fighting after those losses, but decided to keep going because “there’s still things that I haven’t accomplished yet.”

The Winnipeg-based fighter took a trip to where the martial art began, and what she saw reignited her spirit.

“I had the opportunity to go train in Thailand and I took the whole pressure of fighting out of it,” says Viner. “I wanted to learn the culture, I wanted to learn the history behind the training.”

She says the experience changed her perspective and left her feeling more mentally prepared to fight.

“It’s not such a pressure I feel anymore like I have to get in there and I have to perform a certain way. It’s just getting into the ring and performing to the best of your ability,” says Viner.

Viner is also known by the alias ‘Miss Prissy’, which was given to her by her grandmother as a kid and still rings true due to her love of nails, eyelashes, and make-up.

She goes to weigh-ins with her competitors looking ‘dolled up’, which she says throws them off and makes them think she’s not a threat but “then we get to fight day, and it’s totally different.”

A force to be reckoned with, Viner says of all her accomplishments, she’s most proud of the time she’s put in.

“I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in a decade that some people don’t accomplish throughout their whole fight career,” says Viner, “I think that just goes back to being disciplined and wanting a goal and working towards that goal.”

Viner’s next goal is to make Muay Thai more accessible for women and youth who want to get into the sport by teaching them herself through specific programming.

Along with her husband, Viner now owns her gym, Gorilla Muay Thai, where the couple coaches other fighters on how to harness their inner strength.

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