A schoolgirl who was teased because of her small size and a birth defect which left her with transparent skin has beaten the bullies – by becoming a bare knuckle BOXER.
Ten-year-old Aimee Duggan was born at 28 weeks weighing just 1lb4oz (55g) and medics said she was the smallest baby they had seen survive.
She had stopped growing at 22 weeks which left her with almost transparent skin and underweight and cruel school kids branded her a “weirdo”.
But after years of abuse Aimee decided to fight back and is now training to become a bare knuckle boxer.
Champion boxer Russell Mason, 34, worked alongside hypnotherapist David Kilmurry to use “positive reinforcement” on the pads to restore Aimee’s confidence.
But she has become so good at boxing, Aimee now hopes to compete when she gets older enough to qualify for official bouts.
Aimee, who lives with mum Faye, 41, and brother William, six, in Finham, Coventry, said: “The boxing makes me completely relax and when I hit the pads I feel much happier.
“Every time I punch the pads Russell tells me how good I am and I feel so much more confident.
“He’s quite a scary looking man, and after being in the ring against him I don’t feel scared of anyone.
“The bullies always used to call me a weirdo at school because of my size and my skin.
“They formed circles and said I wasn’t allowed in them because I was too small. They used to tease me after school when I was walking home and I’d get really upset.
“But after my first boxing session I went up to them and said: ‘I’m not scared of you anymore’.
“I used to get really worried walking home, but now I feel completely calm.
“I’m going to keep on boxing because I think it will make me even stronger.
“Mum has just bought me new gloves and it’s all I want to do. I love it. Hopefully when I’m older I can box in competitions.”
Aimee now trains with Russell, a bare knuckle boxing champion, three times a week.
Russell, who runs the class at Toe 2 Toe gym in Coventry, said: “It’s called Hypno-cise and I’d never done it before.
“I just try and stay as positive as I can with Aimee, telling her how great she’s doing. It’s just a bit of pad work and basic boxing skills to get her confidence up.
“I noticed a massive improvement from day one, she turned from this shy little girl into a completely different child. Very confident and she has a great future in the sport if she carries on.
“She’s a lovely little girl and it’s nice to hear that she’s beaten the bullies because children can be so cruel.”
Proud mum Faye added: “Doctors told us we were going to lose her when she was born.
“They said she’s the smallest baby they’ve ever seen live, but it’s left her with a heart defect and see-through skin and this led to kids at school taking the mickey.
“They can be so cruel and the last two years she really started to get down.
“But after having this therapy she’s a completely different girl. She doesn’t seem afraid of anything anymore and seems to have found a new love in boxing.
“I can’t believe how quickly it turned her around, she’s so confident now.”
Hypnotherapist David Kilmurry, who treated Aimee, said: “This is a new form of therapy we’re trying here and the results are incredible.
“The link between exercise and confidence is very strong, and by using hypnotism to reinforce that it really helped Aimee.
“I made her imagine she is a Hollywood actress starring in a big film, and then gave her some exercises to bring back this feeling of confidence whenever she’s feeling nervous.
“Then after a few months of that she got in the ring with Russell and the response has been brilliant.”