Current ONE atomweight world champion Angela Lee recently disclosed that her 2017 automobile accident was not a mere mishap, but a desperate attempt on her own life. She recently she light on the immense pressure she faced leading up to a crucial title defence.
As Lee candidly recounts, the mounting pressure before her last title defense in November 2017 became an unbearable burden. The weight of expectations and the stress of the upcoming match consumed her.
Lee stated: “My car crash in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt. I was getting ready for my last title defense of the year, things started to snowball for me. Pressure, stress, and expectations all began to build up. I had tunnel vision and thought that this upcoming fight was the most important thing in my life.”
“Looking back now, I had everything I could have wanted at the time, but I didn’t realize it. Didn’t fully appreciate it. Because I had gotten to a place where making weight for that fight was the biggest thing in the world to me.”
Lee’s unwavering determination is a quality often admired in athletes, but it turned into a double-edged sword for her. The fear of the potential shame of not winning the bout pushed her to a breaking point.
“I told myself: If you don’t get this done, you’ll lose everything. And, as an athlete, in all honesty, that mentality can be useful and motivating. But it’s also a double-edged sword. And, with me, I got to a point where I had pushed my mind and body too far. I couldn’t stop thinking about the shame that would result if I wasn’t able to make the fight.”
“As someone who had never missed any competition in her entire life, that terrified me. It became all-encompassing. And ultimately, I got to a point where I would rather take myself out of the equation than deal with what might come. That’s where my head was at. It was all or nothing.”
Lee made several attempts to injure herself, resorting to extreme measures in the hopes of avoiding the upcoming match. Her determination to overcome her inner turmoil led her to contemplate self-harm. She decided to take control of her vehicle, hurtling down a perilous stretch of highway.
Lee said: “I just pressed my foot all the way down on the gas pedal. As far down as it would go. don’t know how fast I was going. But it was as fast as my car could move. I wanted to hit the guardrail as hard as I could, and I just remember turning the steering wheel and swerving and then hitting something, and then it was just … rolling. Rolling and rolling and rolling.”
As the world turned upside down around her, Lee found herself amidst shattered glass and the wreckage of her car. In that vulnerable moment, she grappled with the reality of her actions. Her husband Bruno Pucci stood as the sole confidant, aware of the truth.
“When I opened my eyes, I was upside down. There was shattered glass everywhere. I remember waiting around in that car for a good bit of time, hanging upside down, just basically trying to process everything. Like…. Am I still here? Am I alive?”
In the aftermath, Angela Lee faced the arduous task of coming to terms with the events that transpired. She acknowledges that healing is a journey, one that is far from easy. But it is vital for her well-being.
She stated: “Everything about this healing process has been a challenge, of course. It has been far from easy. But with each time that I share my story with another person … I still cry. Tears still fall. My voice still trembles. But, each time, it gets a little bit better.”