Christian Lee (5-1) has always enjoyed traveling.
As a child, “the Warrior” and his older sister, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, would accompany their parents on family trips to Singapore and business trips to the Philippines. He never imagined his martial arts pursuits would lead him to competing on the global stage and in countries all throughout the world.
The architect who steered Christian and Angela towards that martial arts journey was none other than their father, Ken Lee.
“It just started with really trusting the process and trusting in my dad,” the 18-year-old says. “He is the one who had the dream, the vision for us. Now we are able to really see the fruits of our labor, and all our dad has done to help us in our careers.”
Though he has studied the martial arts since he was a toddler, Lee took his first step on the path to international superstardom in 2012. He traveled to Greece and participated in the World Athlima Pangration Federation finals, where he became a world champion in the MMA division.
A year later, he went to Croatia and added more pankration titles to his growing resume. Soon thereafter, he and his sister had their eyes set on a career in mixed martial arts.
For the next two years, Lee took part in select martial arts competitions and diligently enhanced his skill set at his father’s United MMA gym in Hawaii. Then, in August 2015, he once again traveled to Singapore with his sister, but this time, it was not a family trip. This was strictly a business trip, and the business happened to be MMA.
“We flew down to Singapore and tried out for the Evolve Fight Team. That was the first time we went to Evolve MMA,” Lee recalls. “Thankfully, we both made the team, and ever since then we have been racking up the air miles.”
Besides making the regular trip to Singapore to train at Evolve, Lee has been jet-setting around the world, fighting all throughout Asia for ONE Championship.
Since making his professional MMA debut in December 2015, he has competed in a different Asian country every time he has stepped inside the cage. That includes the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and China. In the process, he racked up five wins — all first-round finishes — with just the lone blemish on his record. That’s a remarkable work rate.
While Lee’s main purpose in these different Asian nations revolves around battling a worthwhile adversary, he truly makes the most of his spare time, as he regularly immerses himself in the regional culture, meets new people, and dines on the local cuisine. Through all of that, he has gained a more worldly outlook, and developed a deeper appreciation for life.
“One thing I have learned from traveling to all these countries is just gratitude. From living in Hawaii to visiting all these different countries, you meet all these people, and these people have never left the country they are living in,” he acknowledges. “They have lived there their whole life and they are going to stay there their whole life.
“So the more places you visit and cultures you are exposed to, the more you get to appreciate each culture individually, and you get to appreciate the fact you are able to travel and see the world. Your eyes are so much more open to the spectrum of the world. I just take in the experience and enjoy meeting new people. That is honestly what makes it amazing for me.”
“The Warrior” may not have visited any of these countries in Asia, or at least not at this speed, had it not been for martial arts. That is something he readily admits, and that further motivates him to stay dedicated, and disciplined, in his career.
“I love the martial arts. I am very passionate about it, and I would still be practicing martial arts today if I was not fighting,” he says. “All the time you are putting in at the gym comes into fruition, and winning these fights just allows you to travel to more places and experience new things. I am very happy with the journey I am on.”
On Friday Night, 21 April, the journey will take Lee back to the Philippines, as he meets Wan Jian Ping at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY. Win, lose or draw, martial arts has had a profound effect on the young Evolve MMA product, and has turned the prospect into an international superstar.