‘I’m a Mom first, but being a Professional Fighter demands my 100 percent attention’: Angela Lee

ONE’s Women Atomweight Champion Angela Lee shares with SportPlus.sg more on motherhood, bouncing back stronger against critics ahead of her much anticipated return at ONE's 10th Anniversary Event

Image via ONE Championship™ (ONE)

“Being a professional fighter is one of the hardest jobs in the world. But being a mom on top of that is another level.” – Angela Lee, Women’s Atomweight Champion

At the mere age of 19 years old, Angela Lee clinched the title of Women’s Atomweight World Champion after an iconic fight against Mei Yamaguchi in 2016. Gaining global recognition as the youngest champion to ever win a world title in MMA, the trajectory of her career has been one for the history books.

Making a comeback from a two-years-long hiatus after becoming a mother, the “Unstoppable” MMA phenom, Angela Lee, is bouncing back into action.

Image via ONE Championship™ (ONE)

Her preparations for the upcoming ONE Championship™ tenth anniversary event, ONE X, as a legendary fighter and now, mother, is nothing short of inspiring.

Whilst holding the adorable, restless, two-year-old Ava on her lap, Angela Lee talked about her highly anticipated comeback at the Singapore Indoor Stadium that’s set to happen in less than a month.

Angela Lee carries daughter Ava during the interview. PHOTO: SARANIYAH SARAVANAN, SPORTPLUS.SG

Responding to Critics

Lee, in response to critics of her ability to perform after her pregnancy, especially against rising Thai MMA star and Women’s Atomweight Grand Prix winner Stamp Fairtex, said she’s in the best shape of her life and is more prepared than ever.

"My body has been through so much, it took about 6-months till I really felt 'myself' again," said the 25 year-old.

Transitioning back into the ring as a new mother has been especially challenging for Lee because she knew what her body was capable of but she couldn’t rush the process. In the face of frustration and impatience, she held on to the belief that it was “all in due time”.

“Of course I’m Ava’s mom first but what I do as a professional fighter is a very serious job and it demands my 100% attention.”

Training three times a day, the professional fighter remarks that it is hard to draw the boundary sometimes, especially when she hears her daughter’s cries during training.

Image via ONE Championship™ (ONE)

On Family Support

Her family’s support has been crucial to this process, giving her the confidence that her daughter is in good hands. Once done with training, she goes back to being Ava’s mother.

True to her routine, Lee coos a crying Ava in the midst of our conversation that is happening during her meal break.

On her decision to continue fighting despite becoming a mother –– a decision that not many female fighters make (or have the privilege or opportunities to do so) –– Angela Lee attributes a big part of this to her love for the sport and the support from ONE Championship. ”I still really love fighting, becoming a mom doesn’t change that. If anything, it’s more motivation.”

Image via ONE Championship™ (ONE)

Stepping back in the cage as a mom has given Lee a new sense of purpose. She believes that she is representative of all mothers out there who can still pursue their passion even after having a family.

The world champion is no stranger to anxiety, especially with so much at stake for this comeback. She shares that: “it can get debilitating but you just have to step back and remind yourself that you are no stranger to this, you’ve done this so many times”.

Image via ONE Championship™ (ONE)

Be Fearless and Relentless

Emphasising the need to fill her head and heart with good vibrations, Lee reveals that she keeps a “quote-diary” filled with encouraging quotes; her favourite being one she has tattooed on her saying: “Be fearless and relentless in the pursuit of your dreams”.

Coming from a family of mixed martial artists, it would be no surprise if baby Ava takes up the sport herself. Watching Ava play with the training cones in the gym, Angela turns sentimental.

Image via ONE Championship™ (ONE)

When asked what she would say to young girls with a dream to become a world champion like herself, she looks to her daughter and says:” I would be so proud that they are so brave to want to pursue this. I would tell them to be resilient because being a fighter is hard but if you love what you do then it’s what you’re meant to do.”

Taking it one step at a time in this new phase of her career, Lee’s focus is on the upcoming title match between her and Stamp Fairtex. She is enjoying her journey now as a pro-fighter, world champion, and a mother –– and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Watch Angela Lee defend her title against number 1 ranked contender, Stamp Fairtex, in the main event after a two-year hiatus.

The event will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday, 26 March, with the audience getting to experience 18 fights in one night.

Tickets for ONE Championship: ONE X are available here.

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