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On the Mat With San Diego’s Danyelle Wolf

The three-time USA boxing national champion-turned-MMA fighter shows us where winners are made
Credit: Jeff Bennion
Danyelle Wolf

Danyelle Wolf

Credit: Jeff Bennion

At 25-years-old, Danyelle Wolf was told she was too old to get into professional boxing. It was the same words she heard when she began studying mixed martial arts (MMA) at 31.

Wolf is now not only a three-time USA boxing national champion, but this past September, she made her professional UFC debut in Las Vegas.

“It’s where I thrive the most, where I defy the odds,” says Wolf of life inside a ring. “Every time someone’s like, ‘Oh, you can’t do that. Oh, you’re too old.’ Or like this, or that,” she muses, those roped-in walls are where she proves them wrong.

The 39-year-old Wolf trains at Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, a gym where the red and black walls and mats make it feel like the Rocky theme song is playing somewhere in the background. “Nothing is Like Victory,” reads a sign hanging above. It’s here that Wolf’s talents come into focus, where she sees how far she’s come and still has to go.

“I’m learning something new,” she says about stepping into the gym each day. “Every single day, I can feel myself growing as a student in MMA… It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it for 20 years or five years.”

That’s why she’s so attracted to the sport. During those moments on the mat, she’s reminding herself that life isn’t just about the final bell. It’s about showing up daily and realizing that the most successful people are those who humble themselves enough to remain students of life.

By Nicolle Monico

Nicolle Monico is an award-winning writer and the managing digital editor for San Diego Magazine with more than 15 years of experience in media including Outside Run, JustLuxe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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