The martial arts superstar dishes on her workout routine, pre-match rituals, and what she’s up to on her days off
Ahoy fitness junkies! Are you looking for cool ways to get your sweat on? Or are you keeping tabs on the latest live sports events, just so you can get in on the action? Well, we’ve got exciting news for you – the world-famous annual martial arts competition ONE Championship is rousing crowds at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this May.
With the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion (and our girl crush) Angela Lee headlining this year, we’re especially pumped! Debuting at ONE Championship only two years ago, the 20-year-old has been making waves all over the world as the youngest martial arts world champion in history.
Here, we chat with the 20-year-old on her fitness regime, hurdles she faces as a woman in a male-dominated sport and more, before she takes on her challenger, Istela Nunes (a two-time Muay Thai world champion from Brazil) on 26 May.
It’s been a whirlwind of success for you since you debuted at ONE Championship in May 2015 -how are you feeling about all of it?
I am loving life! I’m incredibly grateful for all that’s happened and where I am right now.
You started training in martial arts at a young age, but why did you choose to focus on mixed martial arts?
I come from a family of martial artists. Both of my parents were competitors and coaches before I was even born, so naturally I was a “mat baby” and began training as soon as I could walk. I was 5 years old when I had my very first competition and I loved it so much that I have been competing ever since. I decided to pursue mixed martial arts after high school and that was when I committed myself to full-time training because I wanted to become a world champion.
Do you train everyday? Tell us about your training routine.
Yes, I train everyday, 3-4 times a day. My training camp (intense preparation for a specific bout) is usually 6-8 weeks and that consists of a strict diet and heavy training regime. My training varies from different types of cardio and technique work, to drilling, sparring, and so on.
Complete this sentence: When I’m not training, I can usually be found…
Eating or sleeping!
Do you ever get nervous before matches? What are some pre-match rituals you have?
Yes, I get nervous before every one of my bouts. I don’t really have any pre-match rituals other than listening to music. I listen to a wide variety of music but typically before my bouts I like to listen to songs that will keep me calm, not hype me up. I actually like listening to yoga music because I can zone out and meditate.
What are some of the challenges you face as a woman in a male-dominated sport?
Being a female in the sport of martial arts can be challenging at times but I feel like it only makes me stronger. Especially because most of my training partners are men who are bigger and stronger than me, it pushes me to train harder. It also gives me the upper hand when I compete against these women in the cage.
What I love about martial arts is that there are athletes like me who break all of the stereotypes of what a combat sports athlete should or should not be like. For example, I’m a 165cm tall, 20-year-old girl, who constantly has smile on my face… You would never expect me to be a martial artist but I am! And a World Champion at that.
Martial arts can be quite an intimidating sport for many women – what would you say to those who want to try but are too afraid?
Martial arts is for everyone! Women should definitely train in martial arts. It isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Women who take up martial arts will not only gain self confidence and self respect, but they will also live a healthier and safer lifestyle.
The best thing about martial arts is that you learn at your own pace, so it is suitable for all fitness levels. Take the first step and just try out a class! It’s my goal to empower these women to believe in themselves and encourage them to learn how to protect themselves through martial arts.
Want to see more of this badass martial artist? Then catch her live at the ONE Championship on 26 May. Oh, and did we mention? Gold Olympic medalist (and ahem, another one of our crushes), Joseph Schooling will be making an appearance at the event, flying the Singapore flag alongside Angela Lee as she makes her entrance.
Enjoy 15% off CAT 2 to 4 tickets from now ‘til 26 May.
One: Dynasty of Heroes, 26 May, Singapore Indoor Stadium, 2 Stadium Walk, Singapore 397691, p. 3158 7888. Get your tickets here.
This article is sponsored by ONE Championship