SINGAPORE — Even before Victoria Lee begins her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career on Friday (26 February), at the tender age of 16, she is already under pressure to become a success story.
For she is the younger sibling to not one, but two MMA champions in the ONE Championship fight company – 24-year-old Angela and 22-year-old Christian, both of whom hold the records for being the youngest male and female world champions of the sport.
It will undoubtedly be a tough act to follow in their footsteps, but Victoria is determined not to let the pressure on emulating her siblings get to her.
"I think it is impossible to not feel pressure by my brother and sister both being world champions," she told Yahoo News Singapore in an online interview on Monday, as she prepares to make her professional debut at the ONE: Fists of Fury event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday.
"However, I do have a very strong support system with me – and that is my family. And that really helps me in dealing with the pressure."
Burgeoning talent with potential to be the next big thing
Already, Victoria has proven that she is a burgeoning MMA talent to look out for.
The junior at Mililani High School in Hawaii has won at the 2019 International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Junior World Championship, two Pankration Junior World Championships, and the 2019 Hawaii State Wrestling Championship. She is also a 15-time North American Grappling Association Expert champion.
ONE Championship's chief executive Chatri Sityodtong has even labelled her as having the potential to be the next pound-for-pound greatest female MMA fighter on the planet.
These are high accolades for the youthful fighter, who also readily states that her long-term career ambition is to win an MMA world title.
In the short term, though, she is eager to rack up as many fights as she can. Her first step to conquer the MMA world is a women's atomweight fight against Sunisa Srisen at ONE: Fists of Fury. The 20-year-old Thai, who made her debut last year, has a 4-1 professional win-loss record.
"I'm focusing on my own game plan," she said. "It's less about my opponent's game plan, and more of being in the right frame of mind to execute mine on the night."
Strong support from family of martial arts exponents
Coming from a family of martial arts experts, it seems inevitable that Victoria would get into MMA. Both her parents – father Ken and mother Jewelz – are martial arts coaches, whom she credits as her "biggest influences" as the sport has become a lifestyle for the Hawaii-based Lee family.
And while having successful siblings may mean more pressure amid her MMA career, she also benefitted greatly from their tutelage on the mat.
"Watching my brother and sister compete really inspired me, because I could watch their hard work and see all of their hard work pay off," she said.
"All the success they found early in their careers, I can relate to them a lot, because I'm starting in similar position to them."
Outside of the mat, the siblings hang out and chill just like most young adults. They also enjoy cooking together, and Victoria is especially eager to learn her Singaporean grandmother's dishes.
"She cooks the best dishes," she enthused. "I'm just grateful to have a wonderful family to hang out with, they keep me relaxed and chilled when I'm not training. I feel great to have this kind of support within my family."
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