“The search is on for the next Bruce Lee, and Victor Cui won’t stop until he’s found him — or her.
Lee brought kung fu to the Western mainstream in the 1970s, becoming a global movie star before his untimely death at the age of 32. The popularity of his groundbreaking fusion of fighting styles pre-dated the current boom in mixed martial arts (MMA) contests by four decades, and helped the likes of Chuck Norris become Hollywood action stars.
Cui hopes his One Championship franchise — Asia’s answer to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), broadcast to over one billion homes across 75 countries — can unearth the next fight king or queen.
“Everyone watching from across the world wants to know the answer to the question — who is the next Bruce Lee?” Cui tells CNN. “It has been 40 years since he passed and everybody still knows his name. We’ve got people from all across the world watching One Championship looking for the next big star.
“Asia hasn’t had a lot of homegrown sporting heroes apart from Manny Pacquiao or Yao Ming — but we can have more,” added Cui, referring to the Filipino boxer and the Chinese basketball star.
According to Cui, every great martial artist in the world has come from Asia. Along with Lee, he lists Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who also transcended their Asian fame to star in Hollywood films.
“People in Asia get MMA — it’s in their DNA,” Cui says. “You’re not having to start from scratch, people understand it. It’s part of their lives — every country in Asia has their own martial art, whether it be karate, muay thai, kung fu, silat, or jiu-jitsu.”
One of the fastest growing stars in the One Championship stable is Angela Lee, who is making waves in the world of MMA. Like Bruce Lee, she has a mix of American and Asian background. Born in Hawaii but of Singaporean descent, the 19-year-old has won all three of her professional bouts — her next is in the Philippines on December 11.
Her father Ken, who acts as her full-time coach, and mother Jewelz are both MMA champions in their own right, while her brother Christian will make his professional debut in Manila on the same card as Angela after enjoying success in junior events.
Her other two younger siblings are both in training but their experience will be vastly different to hers. Growing up, Lee was often the only girl in the class — not that it bothered her at all…”