According to RAINN, every 11 minutes, child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse. Although these statistics may be shocking that’s just the ones child protective services find, it doesn’t include the vast number of kids that are living on the streets. A tragic moment SHERO Angela Magaña knows oh to well, but it didn’t stop her from rising to the top by fighting her way to greatness. Although she grew up on the streets she didn’t have any other reference of life so her mind she quickly learned became a powerful tool for thriving.
Me: What was life like for you growing up in Los Angeles?
Angela: I was born into heroin addiction. My Mom was using heavily and would get sick if she didn’t have heroin, so there were times from a very young age that I had to help her shoot up. So as you can imagine life was a bit rough as I grew up on the streets, but I didn’t know any better so it was normal for me, I had no other reference of life. My Mom was head honcho with Hell’s Angels because she was helping with all of the heroin dealing. I remember one time we were in the car together and she took me to a deal, she got shot in the neck and the bullet grazed my face and I remember a pretty red color. She was so high; I found out later it was my Mom’s friend that shot her. This was my first memory of life, I was 4 years old, and I also remember that my Mom was a prostitute. I remember eating out of trashcans with her; she was a junky on the streets with a kid.
Me: So you basically lived on the streets until your Grandparents stepped in and moved you to New Mexico is that right? Where was your Dad during this time?
Angela: Yes my Grandparents moved me to New Mexico when I was 9 years old. My Dad would go back and forth between Mexico and Seattle until he was deported because he was from Mexico. My Dad was a drug user as well, he used crack cocaine, my parents had my brother in Seattle while I was living in New Mexico and I didn’t even know it. I wish I had a different upbringing but what happened was apparently meant to be. My Mom died when I was 17 of an overdose. I talked to her the day she died, she lived in Seattle and I lived in New Mexico. My Grandparents were very poor and we lived on welfare so there was no way I could fly out and see her but at least I got to talk to her often. She was always in and out of prison all the time.
Me: So what age were you when the abuse started? Tell me what happened.
Angela: I was 14 and abused by the people I babysat for. The father raped me! I had been watching their kids and I was going to be gone for a few days so the parents asked me to stay the night since the kids would miss me. I bought in and stayed and that’s when it all happened. I remember I was getting ready to go to sleep and they told me to go into this room it was like a secret room attached to a bedroom. When I came out of the bedroom he attacked me, held a knife to my neck and threw me down on the bed in the secret room and he vaginally raped me while his wife watched at the end of the bed. He said if I moved or said anything he would kill me. After he raped me I moved to the living room and they locked all the doors so I couldn’t leave. I sat there scared and frozen; locked in fear but I wanted to live; he stole my virginity! The next day his wife asked me if I enjoyed it. Then they went to the bar, I made sure the kids were OK and I left. I told my family and they reported it. He got prosecuted for 14 years and served 10; the wife got off with no charges.
Me: Wow I can’t even imagine the trauma this caused. So the guy was prosecuted, what did this mean for you moving forward? How did this affect your life and your dating experiences?
Angela: My grandparents wanted me to see councilors but I don’t have much faith in them and my friends shunned me, I was considered an outcast. So that’s when I got into fighting, I started boxing, and training in martial arts. I rose above being a victim. I got kicked out of school for fighting, I was getting picked on because my parents were addicts and I stood up. Although I was embarrassed and ashamed, I was born a fighter. So I ended up getting my Diploma when I was 16. Then I went off to college to become a schoolteacher. I went to college until I was 18 that is when life dramatically shifted. I started dating a 20-year-old guy and I became pregnant. My daughter’s father went to jail for selling marijuana when I was 6 months pregnant. So after I had my daughter I moved back to my hometown in New Mexico, I enrolled back in college and was training to be a fighter. I had to quit school because I knew being a fighter would be a very short shelf life. My daughter’s father wasn’t fully released from prison until she was 2 years old.
Me: So here you are still training to fight, your ex shows up wanting to spend more time with your daughter, he gets weekend visitation with her and what did you do? What was happening in your dating life?
Angela: I made every effort to get along with my ex because I knew it was important for my daughter to have a relationship with him. I was living in New Mexico still and working as a waitress on welfare when I bought my first house, for $100,000. I hadn’t dated anyone prior to my daughter being a year old I was 20 years old. I dated a guy and after braking up with him he stalked me, broke into my house and raped me. I reported it to the police and he got into trouble for stalking but not rape, the police felt it was my word against his. After that I was in a relationship with a guy for 2 years who broke up with me at the age of 23 because he didn’t want me to train to be a fighter. So I started professional fighting at the age of 23 and after my first fight I never had to work at another job again.
Me: I understand during that time you experienced an accident that had nothing to do with fighting, what happened and how did it impact your fighting career?
Angela: I was in Colorado and was spending time with friends. I broke my back by falling 3.5 stories, I had been drinking and I jumped up to get on the balcony and that’s when I fell. It actually happened at the beginning of my fighting career, my skull was exposed and I had spinal trauma. The doctors wanted to perform surgery on me but I wouldn’t let them, they told me I would never fight again. I was out to prove them wrong as my entire goal was learning how to walk again; I healed myself back with the power of my mind. I feel that the mind is the most crucial tool in healing. I imagined myself being healed and over time it worked. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks, I was walking with a walker when I was released, I had a hospital bed at my grandparents, I had oxygen and home nurses, and I was intolerant of medical assistance. I was in a body cast brace for 3 months. I signed up for a fight while I was in my body cast; I was so determined to get back into fighting. After 3 months of being in a brace and only 5 weeks of physical rehab I fought my first fight post recovery. I won the fight and landed a big contract.
Me: What kind of fighting were you doing? How did this impact your life with your daughter?
Angela: It was a great event in my hometown and I won in a beautiful fashion. It was MMA fighting in a cage that was 2007, full contact. It was the Gladiator Challenge 60 against Tia Castillo. I won via TKO in the first round.
I was building my way up and I ended up in the UFC. I made my UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale taking on former teammate Tecia Torres. In October 2014, I had to leave my daughter behind in Thailand to be a part of the Ultimate Fighter show, it was the 6th episode, and it was me and 16 other women at the TUF house. I continued on with the UFC until December of 2017.
I have had a total of over 20 fights and have been all over the world. I took my daughter with me on most of the travel. She was 5 years old when we started traveling. She attended public school when I was home and I home schooled her when we were on the road, it was about 50-50. At the age of 30 we moved to Thailand so from the age of 23-30 I was actively engaging in professional fighting. After that is when I was casted for the TV show The Ultimate Fighter. This required me to leave my daughter for 2 months in Thailand while I filmed in Vegas. My boyfriend was taking care of her and she was 12 years old. My daughter’s father started a custody battle with me and I was served papers after about 5 weeks of being on set. He said I had to keep my daughter in New Mexico for 2 years so I was forced to move back. We went through DNA testing, he tried to break me and found out he couldn’t so he gave up because he had to pay a lot of back child support and considering he works in the oil field he decided it was best to surrender. I was 33 when I moved and was still fighting professional in the UFC, full contact. I wore nothing but a mouthpiece and tiny gloves.
Me: Then what happened? I understand that you moved to Puerto Rico, when was that and why?
Angela: After the last court date, I moved to Puerto Rico. I visited on vacation and fell in love; I also fell in love with a man who is my current boyfriend. I have been living there for 2.5 years. I was still with the UFC and lived in PR for 1 year, they have the best boxing in the world there and I love to box. But 2 weeks after entering the UFC fight hurricane Maria hit and that was devastating. The cops tried to evacuate us but we knew we were in a cement house and we would be OK. I was with my daughter, 2 kids that I adopted and my boyfriend. If we had left our house it would have flooded. As the winds hit for 6 hours and we paled out water into the tub it was scary but it didn’t compare to the aftermath. Everything outside looked like a war zone, I heard lots of crying, and we went to the refugee camp because we didn’t have enough food. We all pitched in and started helping each other, it’s amazing in a way because it didn’t matter if you were the junky or the drug lord or an abuser there is something very purifying about natural disasters and how people just all start coming together as a community. There was no water; we are the step- children of the island in our neighborhood. I got a hold of the NY police and they sent the military out because of my social media, I was letting everyone know. I could have left on a helicopter but I was not about to turn my back on my people here in PR. So many people would have died. I even got ready for a fight with no water, electricity or sleep. It is horrifying what we’ve gone through here on the island. I lost a bunch of weight, our water and food was extremely rationed. Every time I was hungry I would cry because of how long we had to wait in line for just a little bit of food. I had to barter for food in many cases. It was crazy! But I helped save tons of lives and I’m proud of that!
Three months after all of that I flew to Michigan for my fight and as I walked out to the cage and I used the national anthem of Puerto Rico, tears streaming down the islanders faces as I showed proof that regardless of what we’ve been through we are still fighters and we will continue to fight! Although the UFC called my fight and I’m no longer with them walking that cage and fighting for Puerto Rico and all of my people was the greatest victory of all!
Today I am now the oldest woman on the wresting team in Puerto Rico with the least amount of experience; this is unheard of for what I’ve done. I’m training for the Nationals and focused on going to the Olympics.
Angela is a true example of a SHERO; a female abused, courageous, intelligent, inspiring, empowering, loyal, thoughtful, triumphant woman who has beat all the odds and stands for victory. I could not be more proud of her success and mind set that continues to help her excel. To stay connected with our SHERO stories follow us on Facebook by clicking here.
The #SHEROproject will include stories of SHEROS from around the world throughout the next 11 months. In an effort to support our thriving SHEROS, there is a panel that will be selecting the most inspirational story for the 2019 SHERO of the year award, which will be announced on 12/1/2019. The SHERO of the year award winner will receive a 4-day/3-night retreat at 1440 Multiversity. An opportunity to explore their potential in an environment like no other; get away for rejuvenating downtime and immersion learning on their state-of-the-art campus in the redwoods of Scotts Valley, CA and experience the perfect blend of learning, vacation, and space for reflection.
1440 Multiversity is a place to experience time differently—exploring what matters, while surrounding yourself with fresh air, delicious food, many ways to unwind, and opportunities to connect with yourself and others. SHERO, during your stay, you can look forward to daily 1440 specialty classes such as yoga, meditation, qi gong and Pilates. Or enjoy hiking in the 75 acres of redwood forest surrounding the campus and finish off your day with a soak in their signature infinity tub.
The creation of 1440 Multiversity stemmed from a desire to establish a beautiful and nurturing physical location where people of all walks of life could come together in community—to explore, learn, reflect, connect, and reenergize. (www.1440.org)