Angela Seung Ju Lee is the Canadian-American MMA athlete of Singaporean, Chinese, and Korean heritage who grew to become the youngest individual ever to win a combined martial arts world title at age 19. Having dominated in pankration earlier than shifting into skilled MMA, the place she is the ONE Women’s Atomweight world champion, Lee took a brief break from competitors, in order that she may begin a household.
Now, at age 26, Lee is again in motion, feeling the most effective she’s ever felt since successful her first title seven years in the past. Lee spoke to M&F from her Hawaii house to debate her origins in martial arts, approaches to well being and health, and the way being a mom has introduced higher enlightenment.
‘Unstoppable’ is an apt identify for a warrior that has been competing in martial arts from the age of 6, however the place did the moniker come from? “In high school, being a teenager, on Facebook and Tumblr, I was always looking at inspirational quotes and new wallpapers,” says Lee. “I stumbled on this picture, it was all black and had the bold word ‘unstoppable’ and it caught my eye.” Lee talked along with her mentor and father, Ken and the 2 agreed that ‘Unstoppable’ could be the proper nickname for a fighter, and it caught. She gained her first three newbie MMA bouts in Hawaii after she turned 18, balancing her mat work along with her homework, quickly discovering that she was extra taken with MMA than math. Lee simply wished to journey, meet different fighters, and chase her goals.
Angela Lee Has an Unstoppable Bond With Her Family
Parents, Ken and Jewelz Lee, who have been martial arts rivals and coaches themselves, had first handed their information on to Angela and her different siblings (youthful brother Chris additionally now competes in ONE Championship) as a way of self-defense, but it surely was clear that the talents have been within the bloodline. “Training was non-negotiable,” says Lee, who remembers that rising up in a household of martial artists meant that she must do her chores. “Mom was very organized. Definitely, the discipline aspect of martial arts carried through to our lives.”
The loving and productive relationship along with her dad and mom is obvious even now, maybe particularly throughout title defenses in ONE Championship, the place her father is all the time shut at hand with some much-valued recommendation. “It’s definitely a unique bond and relationship that we have,” shares Lee. “Aside from him knowing me, my whole life, teaching me not just martial arts but to just growing up to be a decent human being, we connect on a different level I guess, because he knows me inside and out, it’s great that I can trust that he’s always going to be looking out for my best interests. I feel very grateful that we’ve gone on this journey together.”
As with many feminine martial artists, Lee, who holds a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, would typically be pressured to compete towards boys and later males, since feminine college students are nonetheless within the minority, however as an alternative of complaining, she used this difficult scenario to her benefit. “I didn’t mind it,” she says. “It made me not have any excuses for myself. It made me better and taught me to be smarter and use my skill.”
Lee feels that the expertise made her harder and extra resilient. “The unstoppable mindset, you know? It doesn’t matter if they are bigger, older, whatever. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing.” These days, Lee can be a Jiu-Jitsu coach, alongside along with her husband Bruno Pucci, and they're eager to convey extra females into the game. “We see boys signing up for the classes and trying them out, while their little sisters are on the side,” says Lee. “Eventually we can pull them in and they have a blast. They love it.”
Angela Lee Has an Unstoppable Attitude to Competition
Lee’s lifetime in martial arts has seen her choose up all types of various types. “I’ve done grappling matches, kickboxing, boxing, judo, and then pankration,” says Lee. “With the pankration, because of the way that dad taught me; to be prepared for a self-defense scenario where the fight could go anywhere, from the feet to the ground, I feel like pankration really translated well (to MMA) because I felt comfortable striking on the feet and using my judo and wrestling for takedowns, and then obviously grappling, and doing jiu-jitsu. Nowadays, everyone is a really well-rounded mixed martial artist, but in the early days of MMA, everyone was really stylistic.”
This unstoppable perspective to competitors, and being a rounded fighter, has solid a storied journey that noticed Lee inking her first contract with ONE Championship in 2014, submitting Aya Saber with an arm bar within the opening spherical of her debut there. She was then victorious in Evolve MMA earlier than heading again to ONE Championship and racking up a string of successes that led her to a unanimous resolution win towards Mei Yamaguchi in a combat of the yr contender, making her the youngest ever champion at simply 19.
In October of 2020, Lee entered one other thrilling part in her life when she introduced that she could be quickly stepping away from MMA with a view to begin a household. In a welcome and progressive transfer, Lee was not pressured to vacate her title, one thing that was seen as an vital assertion by ONE Championship, in permitting females the suitable to be pregnant with out being stripped of a title. And, if justification was ever wanted that Lee was a reputable champion, she made that assertion loud and proud when she returned on March 17 to defend the gold towards Stamp Fairtex by way of a second-round submission.
Balancing MMA and Motherhood
Did Lee ever doubt that she may return after the good milestone of getting child Ava? “In MMA, in combat sports, in sports in general, I really think that it’s 90% mental,” says Lee. “This past fight camp, I struggled so much with that. Just gaining my confidence back, because it had been a while since I stepped out of the cage. A lot happened in that time, and more than anything it was [about] just proving to myself that, ‘Yeah, I still got it’ and I’m not just the same, I’m better than I was before. You could really see my whole shift in mindset from the beginning of camp, to the mid-camp, to the end of camp, and then when I arrived in Singapore on fight week there was no doubt in my mind that I knew what I was there to do and I knew that I could do it.”
Indeed, Lee withstood a devastating liver punch and nonetheless managed to defeat Fairtex with a rear bare chokehold to mark her profitable return.
“Being a first-time mom, I did not know what to expect,” says Lee. “How would my body be after I gave birth? How much time would it take to get back into the swing of things? I was trying to research other fighters that were moms as well … but it’s different for each and every person. I gave birth to my daughter in April and it wasn’t until a good 6-months after that [when] I really felt like everything had healed and I felt strong. But during the six months, I did step on the mats and train but I had limitations. It was very frustrating for me because before I was pregnant, I had defended my title for the fourth time. I’m so glad I didn’t push things and rush things too quickly because there was a really high chance that I could have injured myself and pushed [my progress] back many months.”
Thanks to a mix of stretching and light-weight coaching, ultimately adopted by energy conditioning, Lee started to realize confidence in her skill to select again up the place she left off. “From the moment I gave birth, I was already planning my comeback,” shares Lee. But how has caring for a child modified Lee’s life and work steadiness? “Nowadays, I train in the morning,” she shares. “Then I have a break, and I get to take care of my daughter all day. I’m really just enjoying this time with her, to be a fulltime mommy, and I love seeing her grow.” And when it’s time to get to work, little Ava, who has not too long ago tuned 1 yr outdated and is starting to stroll, remains to be shut by. “Other professional fighters are looking at me, and they’re like ‘you’re crazy’ for bringing your daughter to a fight week, but, luckily, she’s amazing. She does really good with travelling and sleeping through the night. It’s so different now being a mom, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!” There’s no doubting that Ava has a really inspirational mom to look as much as.
Angela Lee now says that she is worked up to get again into the cage as soon as achieve and defend her championship, and can be eyeing up Xiong Jing Nan’s strawweight gold. In the meantime, ONE Championship is rising from energy to energy with the latest announcement that they've signed a multi-year deal to supply stay protection for streaming on Prime Video later this yr.
Before then, ONE Championship’s subsequent present will see a featherweight Muay Thai world championship conflict between Petchmorakot Petchyindee and Jimmy Vienot, on May 20. For extra info go to: https://www.onefc.com/.
ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot will air Friday, May 20 with the lead card starting at 4:30 a.m ET, adopted by the principle card at 8:30 a.m ET on watch.onefc.com.