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Teenage ONE Championship star Christian Lee “honoured” to be considered a role model

Singaporean star is keeping his feet on the ground, despite his new-found fame

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Christian “The Warrior” Lee may only be 19 years of age, but he is a bona-fide martial arts star.

He realised that fact when in Manila, where he and his sister, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, popped out of the Mall of Asia Arena to grab a coffee and were instantly mobbed by fans.

“It is a crazy experience,” he told ONE Championship.

“For me, as a 19-year-old, it is a very humbling experience. A lot of people would take it the other way. I am just in awe of how much my work has affected other people in this world.”

Despite his meteoric rise to stardom in Asia, Lee has kept his feet firmly on the ground, and says the role played in his martial arts career by his family is a major factor in his success.

“My father has been the foundation for my entire career,” he explained.

“He has taught me everything I know since I was a little kid. He really helped mold my career in ONE, and he is constantly training me — not only in the physical aspect, but also the mental.

“I really feel like he is a special human being. He thinks differently than other people, and that is where the edge really comes into my game. It comes from my dad. I cannot say at 19 years old that I’ve got it all figured out, and that this all comes from me. It comes from my dad, and I am able to implement it.”

Lee has also been taking inspiration from his surroundings at Singapore’s Evolve MMA, where he trains with and alongside a host of Muay Thai and BJJ world champions, and top-level ONE Championship athletes.

While his father has obviously been the biggest influence on him, Lee has recently started training more at Evolve MMA in Singapore. There, he works alongside his sister and a slew of Muay Thai and BJJ world champions, as well as several top ONE contenders.

And while he’s able to pick up tips from a host of talented martial artists, one man who has been a particular help to Lee is the vastly experienced former ONE Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki.

“It is always a great time whenever I get to work with Shinya Aoki,” he said.

“He is one of my good friends down there. We always have great rolls together and great training, and he is always someone I look forward to working with.

“The thing that a lot of people do not know about him is when you are in a training room or working with him, he is actually the nicest and friendliest guy out there. It is a real pleasure to work with him.”

Lee returns to action in the ONE Championship cage at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY against two-weight DEEP Champion Kazunori Yokota in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, 9 March.

And while many have Lee as the favourite to win their featherweight clash, the teenage star says he’s taking everything in his stride, and viewing his position as a hero and role model as a perk of the job, rather than a millstone around his neck.

“I take it as a privilege,” he said.

”I take it as an honour that at my age, I can be a positive influence to other people. I just try my best to put out a good word and just share the positivity.”

Interview by ONE Championship. Story by Simon Head.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK's national media covering major sporting events including UFC world title fights, Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, Grand National and the FA Cup Final.

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