2020 was lining up to be a promising year for MMA champion and Mililani alum Christian Lee. The 21-year-old went 3-0 in the ONE Championship in 2019 and has not lost a fight since 2018.
Lee’s first 2020 bout was set for May 29 against Iuri Lapicus, but it since has been put on hold due to COVID-19.
While Lee has remained in the gym and continues to train, he’s already in the midst of perhaps his most important fight: The fight against racism. The Council of Asian Pacific Americans has noted that there is a surge in vandalism and harassment towards Asians over the last five months in the wake of coronavirus.
“I take a lot of pride in being able to use my position as an athlete and as a champion to put out important messages when things need to be said,” Lee said. “Whether it’s you doing the act or someone that’s being victimized, this needs to stop. In my case, it was never something I had to deal with but that’s why it really troubles me so much when I see it and I want to just step up and act in whatever way I can to help.”
ONE, which is the biggest martial arts organization in Asia, recently released a video denouncing sentiments against Asians as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lee and his sister, Angela, were featured in the video, along with other ONE fighters in Martin Nguyen and Brandon Vera.
“If everybody could just follow the simple guidelines of having respect for one another, treating other people the way you want to be treated, just those simple, simple values that everybody should live by, the world would be a better place and we definitely would not see violence and racism towards these innocent people,” Christian Lee said.
Angela Lee was the first member of the Lee family to join ONE and quickly became a star, becoming the youngest MMA title holder when she won the ONE women’s atomweight belt over Mei Yamaguchi on May 5, 2016. Angela Lee had her first ONE fight in May 2015, with Christian Lee following those footsteps by joining ONE at the end of December 2015.
Christian Lee’s victory over Shinya Aoki on May 17, 2019 to win the ONE lightweight belt made him the youngest male MMA world champion. Together, Angela and Christian Lee became the first simultaneous sibling world champions in the sport’s history.
The next time Christian Lee gets another fight under his belt, his hope is to keep building on previous success, to be the best fighter he can be regardless of age group.
“I really just love training, I love martial arts and I love getting in there and testing myself against another trained fighter who also wants to be the best,” Christian Lee said. “My goal is to just keep growing. I want to chase all the top contenders in ONE. After I go through that, I want to chase all the top contenders in UFC, I want take everybody out until there’s no one left and that’s what is pushing me to keep training hard every day.”