ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee is one of the most inspirational figures on the ONE Championship roster.
The 22-year-old’s success inside the cage has led her to become a role model to millions, but in reality, she was a role model long before her mixed martial arts career even started.
Lee has a younger sister and two younger brothers, including ONE featherweight contender Christian “The Warrior” Lee, and as the oldest sibling of the group, she has led by example her whole life.
She did not know it at the time, but the experience of setting a good example for her brothers and sister actually helped give the valuable life skills that have helped her as an influential athlete today.
“I never really thought of it that way, but I guess it is something that really came naturally,” she says.
“Being the oldest of four [children], I’ve always been my parents’ helper, and I always helped to take care of the kids. My parents always told me to set the example, so it does correlate into my career.
“I know I can’t be going out and making a fool out of myself on my social media and partying. That’s not really part of my personality anyway, but I know there’s a lot of people out there [looking up to me].
“This responsibility is something I embrace, and I want to do the best out of it that I can. I’m always looking for ways to help people. If I can ever do work outside of the cage, I always try to do it because that’s what I feel I was put here to do, and I love it.”
Lee says she sees her siblings as much as friends as they are brothers and sisters. Her bond with brother and fellow ONE star Christian is evident every time either one of them competes.
“Christian and I, we are so tight. We’re only two years apart, so we practically grew up side-by-side,” Lee explains.
“It’s crazy. It’s so cool to be on the same path together and to go through the same things.
“The amount of time that we’ve spent with each other growing up is kind of abnormal compared to normal siblings, so we have a really special bond.
“Just being alongside Christian has taught me so much – to be a better martial artist, to be a better person. When I go out there and I train and I do my thing, I’m always trying to set a good example.”
With both Angela and Christian now viewed as legitimate stars in the world’s largest martial arts organization, it has been helpful to both of them to have each other on hand to keep them grounded and ensure their fame never goes to their heads.
“We talk about it a lot – not to lose ourselves in all of this fame and this limelight of being a professional fighter. It helps to have your family around you to stay grounded,” she adds.
“With Christian, that’s one thing I always talk about with him. One day, he’s going to be a great champion and he’s still going to be his kind, sweet self. That’s why it is so important to keep that relationship close and be able to speak into each other’s lives and receive [advice] from each other.”
Lee’s family has martial arts at its core, and her relationship with Christian extends to helping each other on the mats.
Whether it’s drilling technique or comparing notes on new skills they’ve picked up, they are always there for each other.
“We’re constantly learning from each other. It’s the coolest thing,” Lee says.
“Just this morning, we finished practice, and I said, ‘Hey Christian, look at this cool thing I found. You can do this position from here.’ He was like, ‘Angela, I found that out last month and I showed you, too.’
“We’re so in sync, and we’re so on the same page that we’re always discovering new techniques and wanting to share it with each other.”
Everybody chips in whenever one of the family is set for competition, and now the family is uniting behind Angela as she prepares for her upcoming bout with ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan at ONE: HEART OF THE LION.
Nothing would make Lee happier than to make her family proud on 9 November with victory – and a second World Title – in Singapore.
“I just want them to be the best they can be, and do whatever I can do to help them achieve their goals,” Lee states.
“It’s all from the heart.”