A young blonde beauty from Whanganui has donned fighting gloves to battle it out in the boxing ring.

Ashlee Burgess was all about beauty and modelling until she discovered her new passion, muay thai boxing.

The 21-year-old, who was crowned Miss Teen Wanganui in 2008, started muay thai training last March with the Assassins Guild MMA club.

After eight months of training she went into the ring and last month she fought her third novice fight at the River City Rumble.


The novice match meant the fight ended with an automatic tie between Burgess and her competitor Azania Pekepo.

"It was such an extraordinary thing fighting in front of my home crowd. It was the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd I've seen since I've either fought in or been a part of," she said.

Burgess is working on her father's sheep and beef farm near Kai Iwi and was lucky to have time off work to train for the fight, she says.

"I fought the best I could've. Everything we have been drilling at training I pulled out at least once and it was just a great fight," says Burgess.

She has New Zealand cruiserweight title holder and professional muay thai fighter Kyle Gallacher to thank for her success.

Since Burgess began training Gallacher has helped her improve her fighting technique.

"In a year he's transformed me from being someone who couldn't even throw a punch to having my third fight in my hometown.

"He's been so supportive with everything. If I've ever had a bad day he'd try cheer me up and as a trainer he's so inspiring for all young people," says Burgess.

Gallachar says Burgess she keeps getting better.

"Her fight in the River City Rumble was definitely her best fight yet. She listened well and stuck to the game plan. Everything we did in training she put into action. It was awesome to watch and I'm real proud of her."

Gallacher says Burgess has a unique strong fighting spirit where "no matter how hard she gets hit she always pushes forward and fights back."

Delma Burgess was amazed after watching her daughter fight for the first time.

"As soon as I heard her walkout song come on my heart just started pounding and didn't stop until the end," says Delma Burgess.

Since Ashlee Burgess started fighting "she's developed an amazing outlook on life and has become more motivated and dedicated to succeed," her mother says.

Ashlee Burgess concedes the sport has changed her.

"I've settle down so much. I've come out of my shell and I'm not shy like I use to be. I've got quite a lot of confidence," she says.

Gallacher has high hopes for the young fighter and says if she wanted to be a New Zealand champion one day she could be.

Jessica Tyson is a journalism student from AUT University in Auckland