Muscle Sport Magazine

MMA Fighter, NPC Bikini Competitor Marie AK Choi

Compiled by Tim Tibbs – I’m a huge people-person and I’ve dedicated my life to changing people’s lives through martial arts and fitness. Thank you to Mix It Up Sports and MuscleSport Magazine for this opportunity. My name is Marie AK Choi. The AK stands for “Angry Korean.” It’s my fight name that was given to me after my very first sparring session about 10 years ago. I’ll be turning 40 years old in a few months. During the past 10 years of training, I earned a black belt in Hapkido, fought in the ring 20 times, got on the mats for some Jiu Jitsu tournaments and most recently stepped on stage for my first NPC bikini bodybuilding competition.


When people meet me, they are surprised to find out that I fight. Trust me, it’s not something that I ever thought I would do! In college, while many students gain the “freshman fifteen,” I gained the “freshman fitty.” I remember flipping through the channels late one night and came across Billy Blanks’ “Tae Bo” videos. I was inspired by the weight loss testimonials. I ordered the VHS tapes (haha, yes I’m old) and worked out to them religiously in my dorm room and lost 30 pounds. I became a certified Tae Bo instructor and began training in Hapkido and eventually that led to Muay Thai.

In college I was the victim of sexual assault and domestic violence. The “Me Too” movement is more than a hashtag: It’s an important reminder that sexual assault is a very prevalent problem. To put numbers in perspective, 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes. Though the road to recovery is long and difficult, there is by no means a cure-all, but I found empowerment through training in martial arts and fitness. The first time I ever wrapped my hands and put on a pair of boxing gloves was absolutely exhilarating and therapeutic. It was like I got the chance to take back the power that was stolen from me. From there, I never looked back. In 2014, I captured the U.S. World Assoc. of Kickboxing Organization’s K-1 amateur title and was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame that same year. In 2016, I took Bronze in my first ever tournament under the Jiu Jitsu World League banner and recently captured 3rd in my first ever National Physique Competition (NPC).


I graduated from the University of Chicago with honors and matriculated into Law School. But instead of pursuing a career in Law, I decided to pursue my passion for broadcast journalism, entrepreneurship and fitness. I was accepted into the prestigious NBC Page Programs in NY and CA. I’ve worked for top level executives at NBC and FOX Sports. I hosted and produced shows for Torrance CitiCable TV Channel 3. I’ve also co-owned and operated a small business specializing in martial arts and fitness. It was a struggling business that was flipped into a profitable and revenue generating facility. That experience launched my success as the first ever female MMA Director for UFC Gym Corporation. I was inducted into the company’s prestigious President’s Club for attaining $100K sales revenue in just 10 months. Currently, I’m the Regional Personal Training Manager for Crunch Fitness Franchise. I’m responsible for providing support for the company’s personal training teams. Crunch serves more than 1 million members with 225 gyms in 24 states, Puerto Rico and 4 countries. I’m also currently pursuing my Executive MBA.


Hard work, dedication, perseverance and love are just a few of the important values my parents passed down to me. Although they have both gone to heaven after fighting cancer, their sacrifice, support and love will never be forgotten. Using my education, experience and passion for fitness, I want to inspire people, especially women, to become strong – mentally, physically and spiritually. The road to recovery is never easy, but getting my story out there and reflecting on my journey has allowed me to appreciate the beautiful gift of life.

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