Asian athletes have made an impact in just about every major professional sport in existence. In Major League Baseball (MLB) we have legends like Ichiro Suzuki, who will most certainly wind up in the Hall of Fame once his illustrious career ends. In the National Basketball Association, he have seen players like 7-foot-6 standout Yao Ming become household names. Superstars like Hines Ward of the National Football League (NFL) and pro golfer Tiger Woods can also be added to the list of phenomenal Asian athletes.
Even casual sports fans are likely familiar with the previously mentioned names. However, one may also notice that all the athletes mentioned happened to be men. At times, it may seem like the top Asian female sports stars don’t get quite as much attention as their male counterparts. Today, that is going to change.
This article is dedicated to showcasing the top Asian females in the sports world today. Interestingly enough, these ladies are not only outstanding competitors, but they are also some of the hottest ladies on the planet. The photos that are about to be shown feature athletes from a wide variety of sports.
With that in mind, here are 15 photos that demonstrate just how stunning these amazing athletes truly are.
15 Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie is a 6-foot tall golfer who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the 1980s. Her mother was a South Korean amateur golf champ in 1985, which might lead one to believe that gold runs in the Wie family.
At just 28 years of age, Michelle Wie has already established herself as one of the biggest names on the Ladies Pro Golf Tour (LPGA). She made history by becoming the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA event, when she did so at the age of 15. Her success at such a young age garnered a great deal of media attention and also led to some lucrative endorsement deals. In 2014, Wie captured her first major title championship at the U.S. Women’s Open.
14 Gail Kim
Gail Kim, a professional wrestler of Korean descent, as seen and done it all in the business. The 5-foot-4 native of Toronto is a dual citizen of the United States as well as Canada. The stunning grappler is the wife of celebrity chef Robert Irvine. Folks may remember Irvine as the host of the Food Network’s show, Restaurant Impossible.
Despite having two separate stints with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and even winning the Women’s title, Kim is arguably best known for performing in TNA/ Global Force Wrestling. Her numerous title reigns in TNA prompted the company to make Kim their first female Hall of Fame inductee. At 40 years of age, the Canadian beauty was still one of the top performers in all of professional wrestling at the time of her retirement match earlier this year.
13 Mia Kang
Mia Kang has it all: not only is she a talented Mixed Martial Artist, she's been modeling since she was 13-years-old! Born in Hong Kong, this half-Korean, half-British stunner is a skilled Muay Thai fighter looking to take the world by storm. She's already conquered the modeling industry, the world of MMA is next.
Life hasn't always been easy for Mia, as she has struggled with body dysmorphia, a mental disorder that affects people who see flaws in their appearance and their bodies. Fortunately she has used her training to overcome it. Another interesting tidbit is her peculiar fight preparation routine, which includes getting intimate with her partner as much as possible. That's one way to prepare for a big match!
12 Michelle Waterson
5-foot-3 Michelle Waterson is a mixed martial artist of Thai descent. Prior to taking up cage fighting for a living, the native of Colorado was involved in modeling (which likely won’t surprise anyone after seeing the photo). These days she resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and daughter.
Waterson is currently the number 7 ranked strawweight (115 pounds) contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). She holds notable wins over top female fighters such as Paige VanZant and Jessica Penne. Before debuting in the UFC, she fought for the all-women’s promotion Invicta FC, where she held the atomweight (105 pounds) title. Waterson’s marketable appearance has helped to earn her the nickname “The Karate Hottie.” She has also appeared on popular television shows such as MTV’s reality series, The Challenge.
11 Kristi Yamaguchi
46-year-old Kristi Yamaguchi is a retired figure skater of Japanese descent. The 4-foot-11 Olympian was born in Hayward, California. These days she resides in Alamo, California with her husband, former hockey player Bret Hedican, and their two daughters.
Yamaguchi burst on the ice skating scene in 1986 when she won the junior title at the U.S. championship. As a skater, she is best known for winning a gold medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics. She also won the World Championships in 1991 and 1992 respectively. Fans may remember her 1993 fitness video called “Hip to be Fit,” which featured the California Raisins. Kristi Yamaguchi re-entered the limelight in 2008 when she participated in the reality television show, Dancing with the Stars. Yamaguchi, alongside her dancing partner Mark Ballas, even ended up winning it all that season.
10 Jeanette Lee
Brooklyn, New York’s Jeanette Lee has long been the face of women’s professional pool. She is of Korean descent and currently resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband, pro pool player George Breedlove and their children. She earned the nickname “The Black Widow,” due to the fact that despite her pleasant demeanor, she would eat her opponents alive at the pool table.
Lee began playing pool in 1989. She was the top-ranked female player in the world throughout much of the 1990s. She won gold for the US at the 2001 World Games and the ladies winner-take-all ($25,000) tournament in both 1999 and 2003 respectively. Lee is also an author who published her book, The Black Widow’s Guide to Killer Pool, back in the year 2000.
Kanako Urai is a Japanese pro wrestler who performs under the ring name Asuka. The 36-year-old from Osaka has also dabbled in both figure skating and badminton before deciding to pursue wrestling as a career. The 5-foot-3 star currently resides in Orlando, Florida.
Asuka spent roughly a decade performing in Japan under in the ring name Kana, before debuting in WWE’s developmental promotion in NXT in 2015. During her almost two years long run in NXT, Asuka went undefeated while capturing the promotion's championship belt. She debuted as a member of WWE’s main roster this past October at the TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay-per-view, where she won her first match against a wrestler named Emma. She recently broke the record for WWE’s fastest television win, when she submitted Dana Brooke in 5 seconds.
8 Li Na
Li Na is a retired tennis star who originally hails from Wuhan, Hubei, China. The 35-year-old right-hander stands at just under 5-foot-8. She married her husband Jiang Shan back in 2006.
With two Grand Slam singles wins, a strong argument can be made that Li Na is one of the greatest female tennis player the continent of Asia has ever produced. She won the French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open in 2014. Na was previously ranked as high as number 2 in the world back in February of 2014. She was involved in rivalries with some tennis’s top stars including Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Kim Clijsters. By the time she decided to retire in September of 2014, Li Na had earned just under $17 million (USD) in prize money.
7 Rin Nakai
Rin Nakia is a 31-year-old mixed martial artist who is from (and fights out of) Ehime, Japan. The 5-foot-1 powerhouse is regarded as one the top female fighters Japan has ever produced.
Nakia was an undefeated fighter who competed in organizations like Pancrase before debuting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 2014. Her very first fight in the UFC was against bantamweight legend and former champion (though she would win the title after her bout with Nakai), Miesha Tate. Tate won the contest via unanimous decision. The Japanese fighter would go on to lose her second fight to UFC vet Leslie Smith. Following her bout with Smith, Nakia would return to Pancrase. Her current mixed martial arts record stands at 19-2-1, with her only losses coming against top-tier UFC fighters.
6 Liu Xuan
Liu Xuan is a retired gymnast out of Changsha, Hunan, China. She became a gymnast to fulfill her mother’s (who was also a gymnast) dream. Xuan’s mother was unable to continue her gymnastics career when her gym closed due to the Cultural Revolution that took place in China from 1966-1976.
The 5-foot tall gymnast is best known for her two appearances in the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000 respectively. After a disappointing showing in the 1996 Games, Xuan would go on to have a great deal of success when she returned in 2000. During the 2000 Olympics, she captured a gold medal on the balance beam and also won bronze in the all-around. The now 38-year-old would return during for the 2008 Olympics as a broadcaster for Hong Kong’s television station, TVB.
5 Lim Eun-ji
Lim Eun-Ji is a 5-foot-9 pole vaulter out of South Korea. The 28-year-old made headlines back in 2010 when she tested positive for chlorothiazide and diuretics hydrochlorothiazide. While not a steroid, both are considered banned substances, which resulted in Eun-Ji being suspended form completion for three months following the infraction.
Eun-Ji is the current South Korean record holder in both indoor and outdoor pole vaulting. Her 4.35m vault, shattered the previous record 4.16m set by Choi Yun-Hee. Outside of holding the record for the best jump by a South Korean female, she also won a gold medal in 2009 at the East Asian Games, which were held in Hong Kong. Lim Eun-Ji has also competed in other track and field events such as the triple jump and 100-meter hurdles.
4 Son Yeon-jae
Rhythmic Gymnast Son Yeon-Jae was born on May 28, 1994, in Seoul, South Korea. The 23-year old is the 2nd cousin of popular Korean figure skater Yun Yea-Ji. She previously dated Choi Jong-hoon from the famed Korean rock band, F.T. Island. Following the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Yeon Jae officially announced her retirement in order to focus on studies at Yonsei University.
Son Yeon-Jae is best known by North American sports fans for her appearance in 2016 Summer Olympics. She ended up finishing 4th overall in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final, missing her shot at a bronze medal by a total of 72.898 points. While she failed to medal at the Olympics, the gymnast has won numerous medals at the Asian Games and the Asian Championships.
3 Kairi Sane
Hikari, Yamaguchi, Japan’s Kaori Housako is a professional wrestler who performs under the name Kairi Sane. Besides wrestling, the 29-year-old also competed in yachting and even had Olympic aspirations at one point in time. She also pursued a career in acting before finally deciding on sports entertainment as her preferred method of making a living.
Sane had already made a name for herself in Japan but became a star in North America as well after appearing in WWE’s Mae Young Classic tournament. In fact, she would go on to win the tournament after defeating former MMA standout Shayna Baszler in the final round. The Japanese superstar currently competes in NXT, WWE’s developmental promotion. The veteran performer already has a great deal of international experience and should debut on the main roster in the not-too-distant future.
2 Xue Chen
Xue Chen is a beach volleyball player hailing from Fuzhou, Fujian, China. While she is originally from China, Chen also spent time training in the United States, specifically California, with a coach by the name of Dane Selznick. She often competes alongside her longtime teammate Zhang Xi.
While Chen has had several partners over the course of her career, she has achieved the most success with fellow Chinese star Zhang Xi. They won a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships. It’s likely that most fans remember Xue Chen for her appearance in 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. In fact, she (and Xi) captured a bronze medal at the London Games in 2012. She also became the youngest player, at 17 years of age, to win a major event at the China Shanghai Jinshan Open.
1 Stephanie Au
25-year-old Stephanie Au is a swimmer out of Hong Kong. However, she attended school (and swam) at the University of California, Berkeley. During her time at the University, Au was able to earn a degree in environmental economics.
Au holds national records in Hong Kong for many freestyle courses including the 200m, 400m, and 1500m. She also has several short course records as well. She has competed in the last three Summer Olympic Games in 2008, 2012, and 2016 respectively. Stephanie Au served as Hong Kong’s flag bearer at the 2016 Summer Olympics, which were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 5-foot-7 swimmer is still only 25 years of age, meaning that she could appear in a few more Olympic Games in coming years in pursuit of a very first medal.