On the Scene with Angela Lee
Born in Vancouver, Canada, to parents active in martial arts, Angela Lee was already following in their footsteps when they brought the family to Hawaii several years later.
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Born in Vancouver, Canada, to parents active in martial arts, Angela Lee was already following in their footsteps when they brought the family to Hawaii several years later. Lee’s interests extended beyond traditional Asian martial arts; in 2013, representing Mililani, she was the girls’ state wrestling champion in the 121-pound weight class.
In 2014, Lee made her amateur debut in mixed martial arts — and won her first championship title. She then signed with Evolve MMA, an MMA team sponsored by a Singapore-based chain of martial arts academies, and moved to Singapore, where she continued to win. On May 6, 2016, at 19, she defeated MMA champion Mei Yamaguchi to win the One Championship Women’s Atomweight title.
Lee, 22, recently moved back to Hawaii from Singapore with her husband, Brazilian-born MMA champion Bruno Pucci. She is now preparing for her championship title fight against Jingnan “The Panda” Xiong, March 31, at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sporting arena in Tokyo.
Is there a tradition of trash-talking in MMA like there is in boxing?
You don’t see that very often, especially in the organization I’m fighting in, because it’s based primarily in Southeast Asia, and over there (trash talk) is not very appealing. I like it better that way — no emotions involved, just get the job done.
OK, so with no trash-talk, tell me about your next big fight.
I’m really excited to be on this card. (Xiong) is the current champion one weight division above me, and since she’s been fighting for One she is also undefeated. We were actually scheduled to fight each other in November, but before that I injured my back — I had a disk injury — and had to take a break for two months and let it heal up. Now I’m feeling really good and I’m glad that the organization is letting us face each other again.
What has been your most memorable fight until now?
There’s been so many great fights but the most memorable up until now would be when my brother and I fought on the same card. He was fighting for a world title and I was defending mine. We were on the same poster together and there was a lot of emotion so it was a great time for my family.
What is something about you that might surprise people?
People who don’t know what I do have a hard time picturing me as a fighter. They’ll say I’m very nice, but Bruno can testify that I have a pretty nasty temper. He says that it’s helped me get to where I am.
How did you meet Bruno?
After I started fighting and won a championship I got asked to join the Evolve Fight Team (in Singapore). Bruno was teaching there, and was a part of the team as well, so we met each other on the team. We were teammates (only) for the first few years.
What do you like to do outside of your profession?
We have two dogs at home so we spend a lot of time with our dogs on our off days. We love to go to the beach when we have time. Movies are a big thing because usually we just stay at home.
What would you like to be doing in 10 years?
I’ve been fighting professionally for a few years now, and I know that there are still so many things that I want to do, but another huge thing for me is family — and for Bruno as well — so within five years we’d like to start a family. Of course for a woman it’s kind of difficult to do both at the same time so we’ll have to see how that goes.