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The ‘Unstoppable’ Angela Lee Balances Motherhood and MMA


Angela Seung Ju Lee is the Canadian-American MMA athlete of Singaporean, Chinese language, 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 transferring 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 might begin a household.

Now, at age 26, Lee is again in motion, feeling one of the best 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 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 highschool, being a teen, on Fb and Tumblr, I used to be at all times taking a look at inspirational quotes and new wallpapers,” says Lee. “I came across this image, it was all black and had the daring phrase ‘unstoppable’ and it caught my eye.” Lee talked along with her mentor and father, Ken and the 2 agreed that ‘Unstoppable’ can 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 needed to journey, meet different fighters, and chase her goals.

Angela Lee Has an Unstoppable Bond With Her Household

Dad and mom, Ken and Jewelz Lee, who have been martial arts rivals and coaches themselves, had first handed their data on to Angela and her different siblings (younger brother Chris additionally now competes in ONE Championship) as a means of self-defense, but it surely was clear that the talents have been within the bloodline. “Coaching was non-negotiable,” says Lee, who remembers that rising up in a household of martial artists meant that she must do her chores. “Mother was very organized. Positively, the self-discipline facet of martial arts carried by means of to our lives.”

The loving and productive relationship along with her mother and father is obvious even now, maybe particularly throughout title defenses in ONE Championship, the place her father is at all times shut at hand with some much-valued recommendation. “It’s positively a singular bond and relationship that we’ve got,” shares Lee. “Apart from him understanding me, my entire life, instructing me not simply martial arts however to simply rising as much as be an honest human being, we join on a special stage I assume, as a result of he is aware of me in and out, it’s nice that I can belief that he’s at all times going to be searching for my greatest 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 towards boys and later males, since feminine college students are nonetheless within the minority, however as an alternative of complaining, she used this difficult state of affairs 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, ? It doesn’t matter if they’re larger, older, no matter. I’m simply going to go on the market and do my factor.” Lately, Lee can also 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 lessons and attempting them out, whereas their little sisters are on the aspect,” says Lee. “Ultimately we will pull them in they usually have a blast. They like it.”


Angela Lee Has an Unstoppable Perspective to Competitors

Lee’s lifetime in martial arts has seen her decide up all types of various kinds. “I’ve executed grappling matches, kickboxing, boxing, judo, after which pankration,” says Lee. “With the pankration, due to the way in which that dad taught me; to be ready for a self-defense situation the place the battle might go wherever, from the ft to the bottom, I really feel like pankration actually translated properly (to MMA) as a result of I felt snug hanging on the ft and utilizing my judo and wrestling for takedowns, after which clearly grappling, and doing jiu-jitsu. These days, everyone seems to be a very well-rounded combined martial artist, however within the early days of MMA, everybody was actually stylistic.”

This unstoppable angle to competitors, and being a rounded fighter, has cast 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 choice win towards Mei Yamaguchi in a battle of the 12 months contender, making her the youngest ever champion at simply 19.

In October of 2020, Lee entered one other thrilling section in her life when she introduced that she can be briefly stepping away from MMA with a view 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 precise to be pregnant with out being stripped of a title. And, if justification was ever wanted that Lee was a reliable 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.

ONE Championship Atomweight title holder Unstoppable Angela Lee holding her baby Ava in the octagon

Balancing MMA and Motherhood

Did Lee ever doubt that she might return after the good milestone of getting child Ava? “In MMA, in fight sports activities, in sports activities generally, I actually suppose that it’s 90% psychological,” says Lee. “This previous battle camp, I struggled a lot with that. Simply gaining my confidence again, as a result of it had been some time since I stepped out of the cage. Lots occurred in that point, and greater than something it was [about] simply proving to myself that, ‘Yeah, I nonetheless acquired 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 top of camp, after which after I arrived in Singapore on battle week there was little question in my thoughts that I knew what I used to be there to do and I knew that I might do it.”

Certainly, 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 delivery? How a lot time wouldn’t it take to get again into the swing of issues? I used to be attempting to analysis different fighters that have been mothers as properly … but it surely’s totally different for every individual. I gave delivery to my daughter in April and it wasn’t till a great 6-months after that [when] I actually felt like the whole lot had healed and I felt robust. However in the course of 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 very excessive probability that I might have injured myself and pushed [my progress] again many months.”

Due to a combination of stretching and light training, finally adopted by power conditioning, Lee started to achieve confidence in her capability to select again up the place she left off. “From the second I gave delivery, I used to be already planning my comeback,” shares Lee. However how has caring for a child modified Lee’s life and work steadiness? “These days, I practice within the morning,” she shares. “Then I’ve a break, and I get to handle my daughter all day. I’m actually simply having fun with this time along 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 12 months previous and is starting to stroll, continues to be shut by. “Different skilled fighters are taking a look at me, they usually’re like ‘you’re loopy’ for bringing your daughter to a battle week, however, fortunately, she’s superb. She does actually good with travelling and sleeping by means of the night time. It’s so totally 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. Within the meantime, ONE Championship is rising from power to power with the current announcement that they’ve signed a multi-year deal to offer reside protection for streaming on Prime Video later this 12 months.

Earlier than then, ONE Championship’s subsequent present will see a featherweight Muay Thai world championship conflict between Petchmorakot Petchyindee and Jimmy Vienot, on Could 20. For extra data go to: https://www.onefc.com/.

ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot will air Friday, Could 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.

Female MMA fighter Valerie Loureda wearing a vital performance shirt and throwing a right jab

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