The ‘Unstoppable’ Angela Lee Balances Motherhood and MMA

May 17, 2022

Angela Seung Ju Lee is the Canadian-American MMA athlete of Singaporean, Chinese language, and Korean heritage who turned the youngest particular person 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 the very best she’s ever felt since successful her first title seven years in the past. Lee spoke to M&F from her Hawaii dwelling to debate her origins in martial arts, approaches to well being and health, and the way 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 young person, on Fb and Tumblr, I used to be all the time taking a look at inspirational quotes and new wallpapers,” says Lee. “I chanced on 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’ could be the right nickname for a fighter, and it caught. She received her first three novice 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 desires.

Angela Lee Has an Unstoppable Bond With Her Household

Mother and father, Ken and Jewelz Lee, who had been martial arts opponents and coaches themselves, had first handed their information 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 abilities had been within the bloodline. “Coaching was non-negotiable,” says Lee, who recollects that rising up in a household of martial artists meant that she must do her chores. “Mother was very organized. Undoubtedly, the self-discipline facet of martial arts carried by way of 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 undoubtedly a novel bond and relationship that we now have,” shares Lee. “Except for him understanding me, my complete life, educating me not simply martial arts however to only rising as much as be a good human being, we join on a special stage I suppose, as a result of he is aware of me in and out, it’s nice that I can belief that he’s all the time going to be searching 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 talent.”

Lee feels that the expertise made her more durable and extra resilient. “The unstoppable mindset, you recognize? It doesn’t matter if they’re greater, older, no matter. I’m simply going to go on the market and do my factor.” As of late, Lee can also be a Jiu-Jitsu coach, alongside along with her husband Bruno Pucci, and they’re eager to carry extra females into the game. “We see boys signing up for the courses and making an attempt them out, whereas their little sisters are on the facet,” says Lee. “Ultimately we will pull them in and so they have a blast. They find it irresistible.”

Female MMA fighter and One Atomweight champion Angela Lee grappling with her opponent

Angela Lee Has an Unstoppable Angle to Competitors

Lee’s lifetime in martial arts has seen her decide up all types of various types. “I’ve finished grappling matches, kickboxing, boxing, judo, after which pankration,” says Lee. “With the pankration, due to the best way that dad taught me; to be ready for a self-defense state of affairs 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 placing 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 extremely 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 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 in opposition to 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 part in her life when she introduced that she could be briefly stepping away from MMA with a purpose 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 essential assertion by ONE Championship, in permitting females the correct 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 in opposition to Stamp Fairtex through 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 nice milestone of getting child Ava? “In MMA, in fight sports activities, in sports activities typically, 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 would actually see my complete shift in mindset from the start of camp, to the mid-camp, to the top of camp, after which once I arrived in Singapore on battle week there was little doubt 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 making an attempt to analysis different fighters that had been mothers as properly … but it surely’s totally different for each particular person. I gave delivery to my daughter in April and it wasn’t till a great 6-months after that [when] I actually felt like every thing had healed and I felt sturdy. However through 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 shortly as a result of there was a extremely excessive likelihood that I might have injured myself and pushed [my progress] again many months.”

Due to a combination of stretching and light training, ultimately adopted by power conditioning, Lee started to realize confidence in her skill 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 really 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, and so they’re like ‘you’re loopy’ for bringing your daughter to a battle week, however, fortunately, she’s wonderful. She does actually good with travelling and sleeping by way 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 worked up 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 supply 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 Might 20. For extra info go to:

ONE 157: Petchmorakot vs. Vienot will air Friday, Might 20 with the lead card starting at 4:30 a.m ET, adopted by the principle card at 8:30 a.m ET on

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

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