Most martial artists are inspired by legendary superstars such as Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. But for ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion “Unstoppable” Angela Lee, she did not have to watch a heavyweight boxing match or a martial arts movie to find inspiration. After all, inspiration was right in front of her since the day she was born.
“It sounds weird to say, but I really did not have any idols, because to me, my parents were the superheroes,” explains Lee. “To see what they did for me on a daily basis, I really cannot say I had any other people I looked up to and admired more than them,” the 20-year-old explains.
“My mom, just being the strong, independent lady that she is, she taught me everything to be the woman I am today. Also, my dad works so hard. It is a combination of their efforts. They sacrifice daily for me and my siblings, for us to do what we love to do. They sacrifice and work hard so we can chase our dreams, and I will always be grateful about that.”
One of the things Lee’s parents were adamant about was teaching their children martial arts, at the very least for self defense purposes. Her father Ken, originally from Singapore, and her mother Jewelz, originally from South Korea, both held black belts in an assortment of disciplines, and are well-versed in combat sports.
The two of them taught the “Unstoppable” one and her brother, Christian, techniques since they were toddlers. Now, Ken is their head coach, and trains them for their matches in ONE Championship at both Evolve MMA in Singapore and the family-owned United MMA in Hawaii.
Lee quickly realized at an early age that the family functioned as a unit, and leaned on each other for encouragement and support. Her father is always dropping gems of wisdom to his daughter and leading by example, while her mother is a nurturer, and the glue that keeps everyone together and grounded.
All of those actions, lessons, and memories have stuck with the champion. Ultimately, it has shaped her character.
“Everything they do inspires me, from being the amazing parents they are, to the awesome support as coaches,” Lee says. “They taught me not just how to become a better fighter, but how to become a better person, and how can I be the best I can be.
“They raised me to give back, and gave me all of these values. That is what inspires me to help others, because I know not everyone has the same upbringing I have, but at least I can have some sort of influence to reach out and help people succeed in their own ways. That would be my goal, and I think that would make my parents most proud.”
Lee is certainly on her way to fulfilling that goal. Her inspiration is felt all over Asia, as she is leading the women’s martial arts movement on the continent. Crowds of fans gather at all her media appearances, just trying to catch a glimpse of the champion, or even greet her with open arms.
In many ways, the “Unstoppable” heroine is inspiring many, just like how Lee’s parents inspired her.
“I feel really happy, because I am able to do what I love, and I am able to help other people by doing what I love. I am just enjoying the ride and taking it as a day at a time,” she states.
“At the end of the day, I am just this 20-year-old girl, but I do see it happening more and more now, where girls are coming up to me with their parents and saying, ‘You are my role model. I look up to you.’ It touches me, and I just love knowing there is so much good coming out of what I am doing.”
Lee’s influence grows stronger and stronger by the day. If the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion were to defeat Brazilian knockout artist Istela Nunes at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES on Friday, 26 May in Singapore, that influence will only get stronger.