September 28, 2023 – SINGAPORE – In the fiercely competitive world of mixed martial arts (MMA), where fighters often project an image of invincibility, a poignant revelation has emerged from Angela Lee, a superstar in the One Championship. In a brave and emotional interview with The Straits Times, she disclosed her own mental health struggles and the tragic loss of her younger sister, Victoria, to suicide last December.
Angela Lee, the 27-year-old One atomweight champion, is known for her prowess in the octagon. Yet, beneath the veneer of strength and dominance, she reminds the world that fighters, just like anyone else, can grapple with mental health issues and vulnerabilities.
A Fighter’s Burden
The world of MMA often glorifies its athletes as relentless warriors, seemingly impervious to the mental and emotional toll of their profession. Angela Lee, however, breaks down this stereotype by sharing her own experiences. She candidly acknowledged that in 2017, she attempted to take her own life, a revelation she made in a deeply personal essay for The Players’ Tribune. The shockwave of her confession resonated through the MMA community, serving as a stark reminder that fighters are human beings too, battling their own inner demons.
A Sister’s Tragic Demise
Even more heart-wrenching is the news of Angela Lee’s younger sister, Victoria, who tragically lost her life to suicide in December 2022. Angela, in the interview, spoke through tears about her sister’s desire to make a positive impact on the world. She shared how Victoria always wanted to find something she was passionate about to help others, and Angela has taken up that mantle through her mental health initiative, Fightstory.
Inspiring Hope Through Fightstory
In the wake of her sister’s passing and her own mental health struggles, Angela Lee founded Fightstory, a non-profit charity dedicated to inspiring hope and creating a supportive community for individuals grappling with mental health challenges. Her mission is clear: to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and provide a lifeline to those in need.
A Plea for Openness
Angela Lee emphasizes the importance of fighters and athletes not bottling up their emotions and seeking help when needed. She understands the duality of their profession, where projecting an image of strength is essential but should not come at the expense of their mental well-being. It is a message that transcends the world of MMA, reaching out to anyone who may be facing similar challenges.
One Championship’s Support
One Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong stands alongside Angela Lee in her mission to prioritize mental health in the sport. Chatri believes that mental health is not limited to MMA but extends to all sports. One Championship plans to take various initiatives, including fundraising and athlete visits to schools to discuss mental health, to support this cause.
Victoria Lee’s Legacy
While the world mourns the loss of a promising athlete in Victoria Lee, her passing serves as a stark reminder of the hidden battles individuals may face. Through Angela Lee’s bravery in sharing her story and her commitment to Fightstory, the hope is that greater awareness and open discussions surrounding mental health will become the norm, ensuring that no other young talent meets a similar fate.
As Angela Lee continues her fight for mental health awareness, her message is clear: it’s okay to ask for help, to show vulnerability, and to seek support. In doing so, she’s creating a brighter future for fighters, athletes, and individuals worldwide.
Angela Lee is a 27-year-old One Championship atomweight champion in MMA. She recently opened up about her own mental health struggles and the loss of her sister, Victoria, to suicide in December 2022.
Fightstory is a non-profit charity founded by Angela Lee, aimed at inspiring hope and building a supportive community for individuals dealing with mental health challenges.
One Championship plans to engage in various initiatives, including fundraising and having athletes visit schools to speak about mental health and raise awareness.
Angela Lee encourages fighters and athletes to not keep their emotions bottled up, to seek help when needed, and to strike a balance between projecting strength and addressing their mental well-being.