Angela Lee spars with media member over decision to retain her title during pregnancy

The Underground

Current ONE Championship atomweight queen Angela Lee may still be on the sidelines following the birth of her first child, but during a recent digital media press conference, the champion was defending her thrown against the challenge of a media member.

On Tuesday night, ONE Championship’s fighting royal family of Angela, Christian, and Victoria Lee took part in a shared digital press conference and took questions from international media. The near 40-minute presser went off without any issues and offered little ground-breaking news to speak of. That was until the eldest Lee sibling found herself in a verbal title defense against a contributor from Philippines news outlet GMA Network.

The contributor explained their theory that a “normal” champion should be defending their thrown one to two times a year and that Lee (10-2) was allowed a two-year “vacation” with the belt because she is the “poster girl” of the promotion. As you would expect, the atomweight star did not agree with that assessment.

Angela Lee verbally spars with media member at digital presser

“Well, I disagree with that. First of all, these aren’t normal times. There’s a global pandemic going on, which has made it difficult to host a lot of events. It’s been hard for everyone around the world. Second of all, I do think that what Chatri [Sityodtong, ONE CEO] did, kind of makes a statement for everyone. It’s not because I’m the poster girl,” Lee respectfully fired back. “It’s because this is just a given right. I worked so hard to get to the position I’m at, and just because I get pregnant and I want to have a baby that I shouldn’t be stripped of my title, something that I worked towards.”

“I think that ONE Championship has shown that this is kind of what the standard should be. When a woman gets pregnant in her work, she’s supported and she has a job to come back to afterward. I think that I’m very lucky, of course, and I know that it’s going to come with a lot of criticism and hate but I know how hard I worked for this, and I’m not just going to have that taken from me.”

However, the GMA network contributor wasn’t satisfied with that response and used Angela’s brother and current ONE Championship lightweight titleholder, Chrisitan Lee, as an example of a champion that has defended their spot recently. Yet a key element the contributor left out is the fact that Christian is not a woman that carries a baby for nine months, then needs time to help rear said newborn, during a global pandemic.

Christian, also a new parent, has defended his title just one time each over the last two years.

The contributor then added their belief Lee should have taken the “high road” and vacated her belt. Lee, unsurprisingly, lost her cool after that.

“And who would fight for it? [#1 ranked atomweight Denice Zamboanga] is so-called the number one contender. Who would she fight? There was no one else in the division. There was an atomweight Grand Prix that was supposed to be happening, and it was planned before I even announced I was pregnant. Who would she fight? I think it’s ridiculous!” Lee said.

“… I don’t think that you or me should have a say in what this organization does. So let’s leave it up to the people who actually run the company.”

Certainly, a case could be made that Lee, 25, could have vacated her title once she became pregnant and knew she was likely to lose a year or more of time becoming a mother. However, the champ does make some fair points about equality in the workplace and retaining what she has earned and defended multiple times.

Maybe an interim title would have been the best road for the organization, but with an atomweight grand prix already heading into the semifinals round, and Lee close to a return, that is now a moot point and something to ponder for similar scenarios in the future.

What are your opinions on the ONE Championship atomweight title picture over the last two years?

Join the discussion on this topic…

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