Continuing a legacy: The Lee siblings fight their way to gold at world pankration tournament


By Reagan Paz
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(L-R): Jewelz Lee, Junior Angela Lee, Freshman Christian Lee, Ken Lee.

Junior Angela Lee and her brother Freshman Christian Lee have been involved in fighting sports for as long as they can remember. Being coached by their mother and father, they got the chance to apply their skills at the Fifth World Pankration Alima Championship held on Nov. 16 to 18 in Laconia, Greece where they both won gold medals.

“It’s really great that we had the chance to compete in a tournament so big and we had the opportunity to fight in a world tournament and win,” Christian Lee expressed. “My dad (Ken Lee) can teach us. He actually has that (experience) and we can learn from him and then put our skills to use and everything just bringing together for that competition was just huge,” added Angela Lee.

The tournament focuses on an ancient style of fighting called Pankration. It was introduced in the Greek Olympic Games in 648 B.C. and is similar to mixed martial arts (MMA). In order to qualify for the world tournament, Angela and Christian Lee needed to place first, second or third at the national tournament, which was held in April in Las Vegas. Both siblings placed first nationally.

The hard work Christian Lee, Angela Lee and their parents have put into their training paid off when they were claimed gold medalists at the world tournament. “After you fought and you know you’ve done well and then, you know, they say who’s the winner and everyone’s going wild, it’s like really, really the best feeling in the world,” Angela Lee expressed. “My favorite part is winning the tournament and celebrating after,” Christian Lee added. Their training consists of weight training at the gym, conditioning at the park and sparring with high-level students. A training studio that was built in their house is also used to practice their fighting skills.

Their father, who started training with his uncle at the age of six, and their mother, Jewelz Lee, whose father is a martial arts grandmaster, have been trained in various types of martial arts, passing on the knowledge to the rest of their family. It was because of their family’s history in the sport that Angela and Christian Lee were also introduced to it at the age of four. “We were involved in many different martial arts styles and organizations,” said Ken Lee, continuing, “We teach all of our children, nephews and nieces.” In 1995, they opened their first of multiple MMA schools in their hometown in Canada.

Since MMA is such a big part of the Lee family, it pushes Christian and Angela Lee to work harder. “They know everything about it and they know if you’re not trying, when you’re slacking, when you’re trying your best, so it keeps you on track,” said Angela Lee. However, it is also rewarding. “Going through the journey of working hard at the tournament, you do your best and fight and then celebrating and sharing that moment of victory together, it’s really nice,” she expressed. Christian Lee added, “It’s realy helpful because they already know what to do so they get to help us even more.”

Having each other by their side, Angela and Christian Lee provide mutual support for each other. “We kind of, like pump each other up, we use each other to warm up,” said Angela Lee. Ken Lee added, “Their mutual support bolsters their motivation level. Without each other, it may be difficult to sustain this high level of competition.”

In the years to come, Ken Lee hopes to continue Angela and Christian Lee’s training for the upcoming 2013 USA National Pankration Championships in Las Vegas and the 2013 Federation Internationnal de Lutte Amateur Pankration World Championship in Australia next November. If Pankration is passed as an Olympic sport, Angela and Christian Lee hope to be a part of the competition or be involved in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.