MEET the female bare-knuckle fighter from Flintshire who trains by punching concrete paving slabs! 

Danni Ashfield, 32, recently signed a pro contract - and thinks she could be the first female fighter with autism in Britain.

The personal trainer, from Sealand, took up bare-knuckle fighting after her autism prevented her from being able to wear boxing gloves.

Danni, a 5ft 5ins bantamweight who fights under the name 'Danni Lee', now competes in sanctioned events.

She wants more women to take up bare-knuckle fighting - which originated in 17th-century England - and hopes to inspire her son Alfie, 13, who also has autism.

Danni said: “I just hope that I can build more awareness for this sport and the charity.

"I became an ambassador with the National Autistic Society mainly for my son. I do get a bit worried what might happen when he grows up and what the world will be like then.

“So when they approached me to get involved, I was 100 per cent on board.”

Danni started participating in fighting sports aged eight, she achieved a black belt in karate and earned 24 trophies over the years.

However, when she first tried boxing, Danni said due to her autism and not being able to see her hands while wearing boxing gloves, she couldn't enjoy it.

But she said: “As soon as I took the gloves off – it was a completely different story. That’s when I first heard about bare knuckle boxing.”

Danni started bare-knuckle fighting six months ago and quickly became a rising star. She was signed on as a professional fighter with the first Bare Knuckle Boxing Company recently.

Danni trains for between four and six hours per day, either running, doing metabolic exercise or strength and conditioning of her hands, with two sessions in the morning and two in the evening.

She said: “For conditioning my hands, I punch sandbags or the concrete slab in my garden.

"I don’t aim to break them, but it is just purely to build enough strength up in my hands. Eventually you get a bit immune to the pain but it can be a painful process.

“You just start out slow with it. I can feel the pain more in winter.”

She also works closely co- owner of Bare Knuckle Boxing, Jim Freeman, and trains at Unit One MMA in Shotton and Tokon Karate Academy in Chester.

Jim said: "I think Danni has a great future ahead of her.

"She is always going to be seen as a pioneer of the sport, she gets to put her name out there and create a lasting legacy.

“She is going to get a lot of adulation and respect for what she is doing, and rightly so because the people are the toughest of the tough.”

Danni said bare-knuckle fighting is a male-dominated sport and that she has faced criticism for taking part.

The Leader: Danni AshfieldDanni Ashfield (Image: SWNS)

She said: “I would say the sport is quite male-dominated at the moment - and I am trying to make some noise about it.

“It’s like how football started out - there weren’t many women playing. I think the main issue is that the sport has not had enough time to evolve.

"The company I am signed on with is the only one in the whole world. They try to go into different countries and organise fights there.

“But I think it’s the bare knuckle element that puts some women off, it might seem a bit brutal.

“A couple of people have told me that women shouldn’t be fighting. Some people think it’s really cool, other people think it’s scary. People have mixed reactions to it.

“I have had a guy on Facebook [say] that I ‘shouldn’t be punching with my puny arms’ and was offering to fight me.

“But the community itself is so friendly and welcoming.”


Danni also said the sport was accommodating like no other sport she has been involved in.

She added: “I often don’t tell people that I am autistic in case they treated me differently.

“Some people don’t have a full understanding of what autism can involve.

“But my coach took me to where I would be fighting and showed me everywhere I would walk through, what would happen, the music, the speakers, the people who were going to be there.

“I could prep and process before my match and that was really, really good of him to do.

“I’ve never been involved in a sport as accommodating as this one."