The youngest person ever to win a world title in MMA, Angela Lee was awarded the ONE Women’s Atomweight Title last year after defeating Mei Yamaguchi of Japan. She retained her title after defeating Jenny Huang of Taiwan in March, and just three weeks ago won her second title defense by beating Istela Nunes of Brazil.
Suffice it to say, the soon-to-be 21-year-old packs a mean punch and is definitely one to watch, so we sat down with her to talk about how she stays at the top of her game.
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1. How do you stay mentally strong?
“Im so grateful that I learned and developed mental toughness from a young age. My dad, who is also my head coach and mentor, continues to influence my life daily. He gives me advice on anything and everything. Whether it’s training-related or just everyday life, he’s taught me so much. Those lessons are applied when I fight in the cage.”
2. As an empowered woman, what advice would you give to someone struggling with body image issues?
“Thanks to my parents, I grew up feeling very comfortable in my own skin, and I was always confident with my body. I know that as an athlete, my body goes through changes. Sometimes, I’m shredded. Sometimes, I’m more filled out. It’s completely natural and I’ve learned to love my body and all its different forms!
For the girls who are struggling with body image issues, I want to say this: your purpose on this earth is NOT to fit into people’s delusional mould of “perfection”. Your purpose is to be happy and healthy. Refuse to accept their judgments. The only opinion that truly matters is yours.”
3. Do men get intimidated by your strength and drive?
“I don’t know and, honestly, I don’t care. If a man is intimidated by a strong woman then, in my opinion, he’s not a real man. He’s still [mentally] a boy. I think that only a real man can truly appreciate a strong, confident, and driven woman.”
4. What sort of discipline goes into being a martial arts champion?
“During fight camp, which lasts six to eight weeks, I train six days a week for six to seven hours a day and have multiple training sessions throughout the day to optimise my training. My diet is similar to my training regime. I eat about five meals a day because the most important time to eat is before and after a training session.
I eat a nutritious and filling breakfast after my first workout, then I have three smaller meals in between the other workouts, and something light for dinner. My meals consist of a lot of vegetables and lean proteins, and I don’t eat carbohydrates at night. Also, it’s very important for me to drink a lot of water throughout the day and take my supplements to help with muscle recovery.”
5. Are you looking to inspire more women to get into the ring?
“My goal is to inspire women through my own martial arts journey. If there are women out there looking to become MMA fighters, I’m 100 percent supportive. I don’t necessarily wish this for everyone as being a fighter is a very tough job and you have to love it or it won’t be worth it. My main goal is to inspire other women to chase their dreams and do what they love.”