Angela Lee and MMA’s project to crack the $18 tn-plus Asian grocery

The Canadian boxer is a heart-pounding expertise, and could become a huge superstar in countries where martial arts are a huge part of the culture

Angela Lee wants people to think of her as a typical young lady, but thats difficult to accept examining what shes already done.

Im a ordinary person who happens to be a fighter and a nature champ, Lee, 20, tells the Guardian. The Canadian-born, Hawaii-raised fighter says this with a snicker and indisputable franknes. Many beings in their own lives, including those who make money off her, paint a picture of canadian athletes poised to breakout large-hearted in Asia her father is from Singapore and her father is South Korean at a time when the continent is beginning to follow mixed martial arts in ways it was unable to before.

Asian audiences are just now starting to engage in Asian content. All weve ever had access to was North American and European content. We were not prolific in producing character Asian content. Im talking world-class material. Plays or soap operas, its very new, said promoter Victor Cui, the CEO International of ONE Championship, an MMA publicity focused on structure wizards such as Lee in Asia. The direction I look at it is this: Asia is extremely used to seeing world icons in martial art, like Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Accompanying a talented female martial artist is not something foreign in Asia, which is why I remember Angela is so readily accepted.

I dont think theres a ceiling to Lees potential, added Cui, a former ESPN executive.

Lee, who is unbeaten seven opposes into her professional MMA career, deserves at least a mention alongside “the worlds largest” heart-pounding prospects in the sport. Lee captured the championship loop in ONEs atomweight separation last year, and after defending it for the first time in March she is positioned to become the first breakout fighter of Asian swoop in many years, with possibilities for widespread renown looming.

At the start of Lees career in Asia she was quizzed on her background and heritage. Soon she learned how to respond. She was half-Korean, half-Chinese Singaporean, she told people, born in Canada and raised in Hawaii. Thats kind of a morsel, Lee illustrated, but as the media and fan groundworks in different parts of Asia began to understand her narrative they quickly consented her. Im a mix of everything and I think thats a plus. It gives me more event culturally just knowing that Ive been to these different places around the world.

Lee was also shaped by the women innovators who came before her Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey. It represented me want to pursue this even more, Lee said. I was training and playing and realise them do their act on TV and being able to travel and do what they adoration, it just really inspired me. I never had a reckoned in my mind that I wasnt going to make it.

My enormous grandmother actually watches the fights. Shes not scared of anything. I think thats why it kind of guides in our blood in my family. Were all boxers in some sense.

Unlike Carano, Cyborg and Rousey, from her earliest ordeals in martial art Lee was molded as a competitor with a full arsenal. That foot raised a dynamic and vigorous fighter, who to this extent has sought to finish her adversaries in a variety of ways.

Coming from a martial art family and being introduced to the boast at such a young age, I only kind of grew up in it, Lee said. This is all I kind of knew. Martial skills is a huge part of my life it ever has been. I didnt got a second option when it came to career pick. I didnt find myself being a educator or a doctor or something like that. I knew I wanted to do something MMA related.

Observers of mixed campaigning have anticipated an arrival of young competitors who would be well versed in all aspects of MMA from impressing to fighting from the moment they first stepped into the cage. Lee is surely an example of that, and her aptitude has been a boon to ONE Championship. The promotion, a partner to the Singaporean authority, signed Lee ahead of her professional entry in 2015 and rapidly redoubled down with a contract that cleared Lee amongst the highest paid female fighters in MMA.

My advantage is that from the beginning I learned mixed martial arts as a whole, Lee said. You can see it from the transition from the standup to the sand and everything in between.

Because of Lee and their stable of 450 fighters, ONE has suffered explosive rise over the past five years, claiming between 10 to 50 hours the revelation in Asia compared to the industry conducting UFC.

We have been more fortunate in that there is one common denominator in our world, which is martial art, said Cui. Its the only play that is truly Asian. Its been the residence of martial art for the last 5,000 years. Every country we go to at its core has some model of martial arts that theyre strenuously proud of.

So we actually get into a country and we dont need to teach anybody that athletic, whereas if we were making ice hockey to every country we would need to teach them who the Edmonton Oiler were everywhere we go. But whether youre a five-year-old teenager or a 105 -year-old grandmother you know what best available martial artists are like and when two parties come together theres nothing to explain.

Considering MMAs business model is less than a part century age-old, possibilities for Asia to objection UFCs predominance should not be dismissed.

Were at the very early days, literally scratching the surface of what the opportunity is, Cui said. I think youre go to more and more our content and TV ratings starting to dominate because of the combination of our live program, the boast, our local heroes and the clarity of the rules. If we are still to exponentially thrive on social media with material, boy, for us to affect a billion impress during the first quarter and it took us a year last year I was actually shocked.

The potential audience in Asia has Cui most excited. During a panel discussion on Asias entrepreneurs earlier this month in Los Angeles, Cui have also pointed out that China was positioned to expend $18 tn on plays in the next 20 times. In 2016, Cui moved his office from Singapore to Shanghai to focus on developing their Chinese business.

The advantage with Asia is the rest of the world does want to see who the next Bruce Lee is, Cui said. They want to see who the next Asian athlete is[ in fighting plays ]. There is a legal interest among fans to determine what Asians are going to be the best in the world. Thats not common in any other athletic. No one is waiting for the next Chinese champion in tennis.

In March, Lee visited Shanghai to conduct a workshop with Nike. Unlike in the US, where big-hearted labels have remained reticent to fully support MMA especially after embarrassing mishaps with the likes of perturbed former UFC champion Jon Jones that inspired Nike to pull back from MMA in Northern america the Asian side of the business has been ripe for publicity. Disneys Marvel, for example, are associated with ONE Championship to launch its cinemas to Asian audience.

Lee is also a big plus for any advertising are aiming to make inroads in Asia.[ Brands] are becoming more inclined to have an Angela Lee working with them, said Cui. If she was fluent in Chinese that would be amazing.

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