The ‘Unstoppable’ Angela Lee Balances Motherhood and MMA

Angela Seung Ju Lee is the Canadian-American MMA athlete of Singaporean, Chinese, and Korean heritage who turned 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 perfect she’s ever felt since successful her first title seven years in the past. Lee spoke to M&F from her Hawaii residence to debate her origins in martial arts, approaches to well being and health, and how being a mom has introduced larger 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 highschool, being a youngster, on Facebook and Tumblr, I used to be all the time taking a look at inspirational quotes and new wallpapers,” says Lee. “I came upon this image, it was all black and had the daring phrase ‘unstoppable’ and it caught my eye.” Lee talked together with her mentor and father, Ken and the 2 agreed that ‘Unstoppable’ could be the right nickname for a fighter, and it caught. She received her first three newbie MMA bouts in Hawaii after she turned 18, balancing her mat work together 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 opponents and coaches themselves, had first handed their data on to Angela and her different siblings (youthful brother Chris additionally now competes in ONE Championship) as a way of self-defense, nevertheless it was clear that the abilities 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 self-discipline side of martial arts carried by means of to our lives.”
The loving and productive relationship together with her mother and father is clear 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 undoubtedly a novel bond and relationship that we have now,” shares Lee. “Aside from him understanding me, my entire life, instructing me not simply martial arts however to simply rising as much as be a good human being, we join on a unique stage I suppose, as a result of he is aware of me inside and out, it’s nice that I can belief that he’s all the time going to be looking for my finest pursuits. I really feel very grateful that we’ve gone on this journey collectively.”
As with many feminine martial artists, Lee, who holds a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu, would typically be compelled to compete in opposition to 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 thoughts it,” she says. “It made me not have any excuses for myself. It made me higher and taught me to be smarter and use my ability.”
Lee feels that the expertise made her more durable and extra resilient. “The unstoppable mindset, you realize? It doesn’t matter if they’re larger, older, no matter. I’m simply going to go on the market and do my factor.” These days, Lee can also be a Jiu-Jitsu coach, alongside together with her husband Bruno Pucci, and they’re eager to deliver extra females into the game. “We see boys signing up for the lessons and making an attempt them out, whereas their little sisters are on the aspect,” says Lee. “Eventually we will pull them in and they’ve a blast. They find it irresistible.”
Onefc.comAngela Lee Has an Unstoppable Attitude to Competition
Lee’s lifetime in martial arts has seen her choose up every kind of various types. “I’ve accomplished grappling matches, kickboxing, boxing, judo, and then pankration,” says Lee. “With the pankration, due to the way in which that dad taught me; to be ready for a self-defense state of affairs the place the struggle may go wherever, from the toes to the bottom, I really feel like pankration actually translated nicely (to MMA) as a result of I felt comfy hanging on the toes and utilizing my judo and wrestling for takedowns, and then clearly grappling, and doing jiu-jitsu. Nowadays, everyone seems to be a extremely well-rounded combined martial artist, however within the early days of MMA, everybody was actually 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 determination win in opposition to Mei Yamaguchi in a struggle 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 briefly stepping away from MMA as a way to begin a household. In a welcome and progressive transfer, Lee was not compelled to vacate her title, one thing that was seen as an vital assertion by ONE Championship, in permitting females the fitting to be pregnant with out being stripped of a title. And, if justification was ever wanted that Lee was a legit champion, she made that assertion loud and proud when she returned on March 17 to defend the gold in opposition to Stamp Fairtex by way of a second-round submission.
Onefc.comBalancing MMA and Motherhood
Did Lee ever doubt that she may return after the nice milestone of getting child Ava? “In MMA, in fight sports activities, in sports activities generally, I actually assume that it’s 90% psychological,” says Lee. “This previous struggle camp, I struggled a lot with that. Just gaining my confidence again, as a result of it had been some time since I stepped out of the cage. So much occurred in that point, and greater than something it was [about] simply proving to myself that, ‘Yeah, I nonetheless obtained it’ and I’m not simply the identical, I’m higher than I used to be earlier than. You may actually see my entire shift in mindset from the start of camp, to the mid-camp, to the tip of camp, and then after I arrived in Singapore on struggle week there was little doubt in my thoughts that I knew what I used to be there to do and I knew that I may 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 mother, I didn’t know what to anticipate,” says Lee. “How would my physique be after I gave start? How a lot time wouldn’t it take to get again into the swing of issues? I used to be making an attempt to analysis different fighters that have been mothers as nicely … nevertheless it’s completely different for every and each individual. I gave start to my daughter in April and it wasn’t till 6-months after that [when] I actually felt like every part had healed and I felt sturdy. But throughout the six months, I did step on the mats and practice however I had limitations. It was very irritating for me as a result of earlier than I used to be pregnant, I had defended my title for the fourth time. I’m so glad I didn’t push issues and rush issues too rapidly as a result of there was a extremely excessive likelihood that I may have injured myself and pushed [my progress] again many months.”
Thanks to a mix of stretching and mild coaching, ultimately adopted by energy conditioning, Lee started to realize confidence in her skill to choose again up the place she left off. “From the second I gave start, I used to be already planning my comeback,” shares Lee. But how has caring for a child modified Lee’s life and work steadiness? “Nowadays, I practice within the morning,” she shares. “Then I’ve a break, and I get to care for my daughter all day. I’m actually simply having fun with this time together with her, to be a fulltime mommy, and I like seeing her develop.” And when it’s time to get to work, little Ava, who has lately tuned 1 yr outdated and is starting to stroll, continues to be shut by. “Other skilled fighters are taking a look at me, and they’re like ‘you’re loopy’ for bringing your daughter to a struggle week, however, fortunately, she’s superb. She does actually good with travelling and sleeping by means of the night time. It’s so completely different now being a mother, however I wouldn’t commerce 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 happy to get again into the cage as soon as acquire and defend her championship, and can also 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 reside 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:
ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot will air Friday, May 20 with the lead card starting at 4:30 a.m ET, adopted by the primary card at 8:30 a.m ET on

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