As usual, I’ve been reserving my Sunday posts for people that have inspired me or motivated me in some way. While going through my Kobo with my wife, we came upon the autobiography of Ronda Rousey, entitled “My Fight/Your Fight.” I started talking about the autobiography and about everything Rousey has been through in her life (up to that point) to get to where she is today. My wife suggested that I seemed pretty inspired by Rousey and that perhaps I should write about her. And here we are…
Many people in martial arts circles and non-fitness circles alike have expressed a love/hate relationship with Rousey. Some believing her to be more of a passing fad than a genuine athlete, some idolizing her as a true martial artist and pioneer in the women’s division of one of the most male-dominated forms of sport entertainment currently in existence. But the truth of it is she’s accomplished many great things. Most of which were accomplished through sheer force of will and has beaten odds that would have crushed a lesser person.
Rousey was born in California in the late 80’s and was born with a condition known as apraxia, which is a particular childhood speech disorder that made it difficult for Rousey to speak in a coherent manner for the first years of her life. This would be one of the first obstacles she’d overcome as she would eventually go on to speak normally, as anyone who has heard her speak in recent years could attest.
Rousey suffered tragedy early in her life as her father broke his back while sledding with Rousey and her sisters. Rousey’s father became a paraplegic as a result and took his own life in 1995. Years later, Rousey would begin training in the martial art of Judo, as her mother had been an accomplished athlete in Judo, having been the first American to win the World Judo Championship in 1984.
Rousey progressed, promoted and moved up the ranks in Judo and won more medals and trophies than I could possibly list here (you should read her biography for deeper details) and never gave up along the way. She faced personal difficulties at home, which saw her leave her family to train elsewhere and injuries that made continued training and development difficult. But along the way, she never stopped fighting, in the physical and metaphorical sense. Rousey became an Olympian by winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic games, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s Judo since its creation.
After winning an Olympic medal, Rousey retired from Judo professionally, and sought some direction in her life. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of it, my impression was that she slipped off the rails a bit when she failed to find that direction in her own life. I can definitely relate to that, on a number of levels.
Rousey fell into the world of Mixed Martial Arts in 2010 as an amateur, a term that wouldn’t apply to her for very long. She trained with the same passion and fervour in MMA and she had in Judo, and quickly came to make her mark on the sport and ultimately, the world. Her signature move was submission by armbar, and it seemed that no opponent could best her.
Rousey stepped into professional MMA in the following year and became Strikeforce’s Women’s Bantamweight Champion in 2012. Rousey would go on to be the first female signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, after a great deal of debate whether women would ever be in the UFC. Once part of UFC, Rousey was named the UFC’s first Women’s Bantamweight Champion, a title she defended over and over until her loss to another fighter in 2015.
Rousey was away from MMA for about a year before she returned to reclaim her title. She ultimately suffered another loss and unofficially retired from the UFC in late 2016. She was, however, inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018. Rousey has since moved on to professional wrestling, and has continued to make an impact there, as well.
The thing about Ronda Rousey is that despite the obstacles, difficulties and losses she’s faced in life and career, she never stopped fighting. Even at her lowest, when she felt she had nothing more she could lose, she found ways to rise up and pick herself up like a proverbial phoenix. Rousey has gone on to author books, star in action films accomplish inspirational things despite said obstacles.
If you want to learn about Ronda Rousey the person, I would definitely recommend picking up her autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight. You can get it from your local bookstore or you can get it as an e-book for your Kobo, which is what I did. It’s definitely worth the read and will give you insight on her character and her development as a person, as opposed to an entertainer and athlete. But, what an athlete! If you need some proof, just Google her fight record… From Judo to MMA to professional wrestling, the scales definitely tip in her favour.
As most of you know, I’ve never been a great fan of MMA. To a traditional martial artist, the term “mixed martial arts” doesn’t ring true under any circumstance. So, for me to be inspired and motivated by an MMA athlete is a bit of a step out of my comfort zone. That being said, holding a 6th degree black belt in Judo definitely helps. She’s a good combination of traditional and modern, with a warrior spirit to back it up. ☯