Local woman Alexis Robinson grew up in Ashland, attended Hager Elementary School, attended Ashland Middle School (Verity at the time), and graduated from Ashland Blazer High School.
Robinson then attended the University of Colorado for four years, playing basketball and majoring in artistic practice with an emphasis on photography and videography, preparing for what could be considered a lifetime and a lifetime. typical education; but Robinson’s story is anything but typical, and now she’s ready to continue breaking away from the norm.
Robinson said she always enjoyed being active and playing all kinds of sports when she was younger. But from college on, she focused on basketball only. She helped lead the Ashland kittens to four straight 16th region championships from 2012 to 2015, and followed that with four great years in Colorado. She then played two years abroad.
“It was pretty fun, but a lot of adjustments,” Robinson said of his time abroad. “European basketball is different from American basketball, and it took some getting used to, but it was nice.
“When I first came back COVID hit,” Robinson said of his return to the United States. Her plans at the time, she said, were to relax a bit, then find a job and move on with her life, but the pandemic has made that problematic at best. She said she was considering returning overseas because of it, but was unwilling to pursue an available option that involved traveling to Saudi Arabia.
“So I decided to fall back on my original plan to find a job here,” said Robinson. Soon Robinson began training local youth in basketball, eventually coaching seventh and eighth graders and being an assistant coach in high school.
In the meantime, Robinson was also working at the Tomcat Bourbon and Brewhouse in Ashland. It was there that she met, quite by accident, Jeremy Bates and Bill Brock.
“I wasn’t even working that night,” Robinson said. “I was just relaxing, and they tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was a fighter. I said ‘No, I play basketball.’ And it started from there.
“I had never fought before,” said Robinson. “I only put on the mittens once in college while getting ready for basketball. But when they asked me if I wanted to fight in the Toughman contest; I said of course. I’m pretty athletic anyway, and thought I could do a good job, especially with them coaching me.
What followed were focused daily workouts under the watchful eyes of Brock and Bates, and Corky Salyer, Head Coach / Manager and Owner of Fitness World.
“I think they did everything they could to prepare me,” said Robinson. “And I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”
The chance encounter was perhaps even more unlikely than Robinson might have first realized. Bates and Brock had coached other women earlier in 2021 to compete in the Toughman competition, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Mountain Health Arena in Huntington.
But all of these women had dropped out of the training, and Bates said he was understandably discouraged.
“I understand,” said the former heavyweight boxer. “It’s tough training and it takes a long time because you really have to go through it. And most people aren’t ready to invest the time and effort that it takes, let alone the sacrifices that come with professional training.
“Bill and I were at the bar that night, and Bill asked me if that was the Huntington fighter,” Bates said, referring to Robinson. “He thought she was another fighter we had seen before, so when she came by I said, ‘Hey, are you a fighter?’ And when she said “No, I play basketball,” I said a lot of basketball footwork is similar to boxing. And I told her that if she ever wanted to learn to box, join us.
Bates said Robinson told him she had always been interested in boxing, so the three started talking.
“I told him what Bill and I had started and told him about the web series that we had started and where we wanted to train someone for the Toughman. But we had given up on that, ”admitted Bates. “We arrested five girls. Boxing is a tough sport, and you have to dedicate a great deal of your life just preparing to compete. And I was hesitant to even start training someone again.
“I really had to push for that,” said Brock. “And I was just training it myself at first.”
Brock said early on that he could see that Robinson was special and that she possessed the drive and discipline it would take to see her through. Bates also returned quickly, as he saw the same discipline and willingness to work that he possessed.
“After seeing her work a couple of times, I knew she had the right attitude,” Bates said.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can,” said Robinson, grateful for the combined 50+ years of experience that have guided her. “And I think it’s even more than fighting, because it helps me learn more about life and myself.”
Salyer said he expects Robinson to win every game she fights in the Toughman contest.
“And after winning her division from the Toughman, she turns professional,” he said confidently. His three coaches plan to support Robinson until the end.