MMA fighter Angela Lee opens up about struggle with mental health, dedicates charity to late sister
Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Angela Lee has launched a non-profit charity called Fightstory, which will be dedicated to inspiring hope and building a community for those struggling with mental health.
In an article published in The Players’ Tribune on Tuesday, Lee opened up about her own struggles and wrote that she wanted “people to know that although you may feel lonely in your fight with mental health, you are not alone”.
Lee, 27, added: “At Fightstory, we believe stories can save lives. These narratives, our stories, need to be shared, and people need to hear them. We are focused on creating a community where voices can be heard, and stories celebrated.”
She added that by sharing stories of overcoming adversity, “we shine a light on a topic that is all too often kept in the dark. Our mission is to change how society views mental health and to emphasize the process of healing... because it is a process, and it is possible.”
“We believe that mental and physical health are vital for every individual and the preservation of their well-being. We want to use our voices to inspire hope and to let others know that they’re not alone.”
Born in Canada to a Singaporean dad and South Korean mum, Lee rose to prominence in Asia’s largest mixed martial arts promotion, One Championship, where she fights under the Singapore flag. She became the youngest female world champion in MMA aged 19 in 2016.
The current One atomweight champion has not fought since October 2022, and is reported to have been contemplating retirement following the death of her younger sister Victoria, 18, in December 2022.
In the piece on The Players’ Tribune, Lee, who is based in Waipahu, Hawaii, also confirmed that her sister, a fellow MMA athlete, took her own life and said it had prompted her to create Fightstory. Lee also revealed that her 2017 car crash was a suicide attempt.
She wrote: “It’s taken me a long time to get to this place, but I’ve now reached a point where I am comfortable and confident enough to speak the full truth. Six years ago, I tried to end my life. My car crash in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt.”
She added: “I wanted to end whatever it was that I was feeling. Because I felt like that was my only option. I couldn’t see past that moment. I was too scared to speak up and tell people I was struggling. I was too afraid of what my family would think of me, of what the world would think. I didn’t want to be a disappointment to anyone.”
In November 2017, Lee, who was 21 at that time, was involved in a car accident in Oahu, Hawaii. While she reportedly suffered a concussion and minor burns, she did not sustain serious injuries. Her atomweight world championship title defence against Japan’s Mei Yamaguchi at the Singapore Indoor Stadium scheduled for later that month was postponed.
Lee has a 11-3 record in One. Her last bout was in October 2022 when she lost a strawweight world title fight to China’s Xiong Jingnan at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
One Championship chief executive officer Chatri Sityodtong said in August that Lee will “make a big statement” on her future at the One Fight Night 14 event on Sept 30 in Singapore.