Some time back (two weeks ago), I did a pre review of Ms. Rousey’s “auto”biography. I promised at that time to then do an actual review after the fact to see how much I got right. This is the official Ronda Rousey book review.
HOW DID I DO?
Ronda was born in North Dakota – or moved there at a youngish age with her mom and dad and a sister. Her mom was a hardcore Judoka. The first female American to win the Judo World Championships (I swear, she’s the first and only American PERIOD to win it but don’t care enough to wikipedia it).
More or less got this right. Moved there very young because her mom got a teaching job.
Her dad was a kind man, one who worked a manual labor job. He was a firm but fair man.
Right again (though usually people don’t reference their parents as abusive assholes – even if they are *cough* her mom *cough*).
Ronda’s mom didn’t push her into Judo – that would be wrong and no parent ever pushes their kid into sports – especially not out of shape fathers who make their kid practice baseball all day, every day, Dad. Instead, Ronda was just very good at it and her mom said, “If you’re gonna do it, you’re going to do it right.” As such, Ronda’s mom would often attack her at all hours, randomly, and put her in an armbar to teach Ronda how to escape it. She would do this despite the fact that submissions in Judo are quite rare and that randomly throwing her would:
- Actually help her.
- Actually take her by surprise.
Half right. She actually doesn’t mention the armbar stuff in the book. Her mom’s attitude throughout the tome is clear though: I’m going to show you you can do this no matter how much it hurts and I’m going to make sure you do it right. There isn’t mention of her mom pressuring her so much as it comes across as Ronda herself being driven. I suspect Rousey understates her mom’s involvement and over-credits her own drive but, hey, she was the Olympian and those people are crazy.
So, ninja mom would armbar Ronda all the time and that’s why Ronda is so so good at armbars.
She actually credits her ground success to her tearing her ACL and having to do nothing but ground work for months on end (which is odd because I know people who have ripped their ACL to shreds and…no, they aren’t doing jack until it heals).
Then, Ronda’s dad got sick. This was before Ronda really got hardcore into Judo – before she’d become a teenager. It was a bad illness. I’ll say lung cancer, even though he never smoked. Or maybe an accident at work. Either way, his quality of life was quickly diminished and he could see the inevitable: he would decline until he was in a vegetative state. Not wanting that for himself, nor wanting to put his family through the pain of seeing their husband/father suffer, he committed suicide. This event had a profound impact on Ronda’s life. She was confused and angry, not knowing what to do, who to blame, and instead throwing herself into her training. It also brought she and her mom closer together.
Close. Her dad went sledding and on a fluke he broke his back. He got it repaired but it was years of agony and he was then flat told, “This is going to get worse. You will die. It is inevitable.” He killed himself as a result of that. It’s touching, to be honest. One of the more powerful moments in the book.
Ronda began to display great aptitude for Judo and soon was dominating all the women and most of the men. She and her mom moved to Judo Heaven (uh, West L.A.?) and Ronda began training full time. She dominated at the junior world championships, bringing some sort of medal back to the good ol US of A.
Yup. Her mom also met a man and I think that contributed to them moving back.
At 16 (or 17) she represented America in the Olympics proper and was the youngest competitor of all time. She placed … 8th. Not bad for a young kid. Two years later she won a silver in the world championships. And then competed again in the Olympics, this time as a 21 year old (or 20, since that’s how the math would work). She would often fight opponents much heavier than her but never quit and ended up winning a Bronze medal – the congrats, you’re better than most but not close to the best two but enjoy it and use it to get free drinks, medal.
Yup. This is a big chunk of the book. There’s a sense (probably correctly) that at that time Ronda didn’t even appreciate how special it was that she was that young and doing so well.
Ronda then returned home and realized no one gave a crap about her. She was taken by surprise that America didn’t care about a sport we barely pay attention to, let alone the female version of that sport. She started to tend bar. She also got depressed. Her competitive drive was not satisfied. She turned to drugs and alcohol and while she never abused them, she used more than she should have to fill the missing gap in her life.
Yup. She took a year off of life basically. Became a bartender, smoked pot, did a little bit of pill related fun. She admits all this but it comes across as innocent and not like she was in a deep funk but more she needed to blow off steam. Which I’m sure is true but maybe she was a biiiiiit more depressed than she let on. Hyper dedicated people without anything to focus upon often become self-destructive.
She was also involved with some jerk guys, including some that tried to abuse her. But she was taught to be strong and never took that from anyone. She felt men were insecure around her and to this day has trouble meeting a “real man.”
I understated this. She never mentions anyone by name (LEGAL REASONS! I’m sure) but she’s honest to a fault about relationships. They play a bigger part of the book than you’d guess. Most are just normal: young person dates, doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing, falls for the wrong guy. It happens repeatedly. Heroin addicts who steal her car; a guy who was like 5 years her senior and tried (maybe successfully – it’s a bit vague) to nail her when she was under 18; guys who takes pictures of her naked while she’s asleep, etc…
To me, this humanized her a lot. It was also revealing in that you see her making the same dumb choices over and over again. You can flat tell that any guy she chooses isn’t going to be “not right” but is going to be “disaster bad.” She is almost unsympathetic at points because you just want to say, “You are so fucking stupid.” But then realize: she was late teens and early 20s – everyone is a moron then when it comes to their genitals.
Enter MMA. Even though there was no female MMA at the time (ignore Carano for now) she was going to make it happen. And started her streak of tapping out everyone in under one minute with an armbar. She dominated the amateurs, dominated Strikeforce, and single handily forced Dana White and the UFC to admit that she belonged! GIRL POWER!
She then became the first female to headline a UFC, graced the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine, starred in movies. But don’t worry, she never forgot where she came from. She still keeps her same close friends and still trains her ass off every day. She isn’t sure what’s next but she knows she will never quit until she’s the best at it.
I cannot stress how full of herself, in both a good and bad way, she comes across. EVERYTHING is about how she believes in herself and no one can stop her. That she’s the greatest ever. Etc… Maybe she doesn’t know if it makes her seem arrogant, maybe she doesn’t care, but it did feel honest. You get the very real, I’m sure, impression of how different high level athletes like her really are. They aren’t just gifted physically, or even mentally, they’re almost broken mentally. They push well beyond what any normal person would ever bother considering.
That’s her fight. What’s yours?
She didn’t end the book with that line but she almost did.
Oh, and she’s only 28 right now. Fuck her for having accomplished more. And pity her because she has a lifetime of normal shit coming and doesn’t even know it. Her’s is a story of an athlete, that’s it really. The tragedy of her father is real, but that’s basically the only thing special to her book. The rest is making a bigger deal out of relationships than is the case (when she’s older – like 50 – she’ll know what I’m talking about)(says the 32 year old…) and the focus on her training and drive, drive, drive, DRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!! to be the best.
Reading it, you get an accurate picture of her life: she was born, she started training, and all she’s ever done is train, compete, and have some failed relationships.
Random quotes pulled from the book. Some to mocks some for illustrative purposes
(All excerpts From: Rousey, Ronda. “My Fight / Your Fight.” Regan Arts.)
To be a fighter, you have to be passionate. I have so much passion, it’s hard to hold it all in.
That is the first line of the book. If it seems like a generic cliche and a bit like she’s full of herself: it is. Good writers nail the tone of their book with the first sentence. I won’t say the writing in the book is great but at least it was consistent.
I pull on my Reebok sweats.
Blatant product placement.
He hands me my Monster headphones.
More of placing a product. NO ONE talks like this. Maybe you mention the Reebok thing because it’s kind of cool to be sponsored by America’s third or fourth most successful sneaker company, but Monster headphones? Maybe they’re a sponsor but it reads more like she’s almost bragging about having them. “Here’s my Armani dress, Gucci bag, and Monster headphones.”
I was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, cutting off my air supply.
So was I, actually. I’m like Ronda, just with less drive and talent and probably better drinking skills and watching TV talent.
On my third birthday, more than anything else, I wanted a WWF Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy.
Ronda hates black people, I forgot to mention that.
“You’re a smart kid. It’s not like you’re some fucking moron. You think you got problems because you’re a little slow to talk. Let me show you what stupid looks like.”
This is the beginning of the best part of the book. Where her dad illustrates that even though she was having problems with speech at a young age that she wasn’t stupid. Of course, the degradation of fast food workers is another story.
The dojo smelled like sweaty Armenians and Axe body spray.
The one thing they couldn’t inject into their asses is belief.
The “belief” thing is everywhere. It’s like if Tony Robbins was publicly a bit of a purposeful asshole.
It was just titties and passports everywhere.
Book failed with its pictures as there is no evidence of this provided.
The night I took her home was her first time away from her mom. She cried all night. I relented and let her sleep in my bed. “Don’t get used to this, Mochi,” I said.
She slept in my bed for the next few weeks. Then one morning, I rolled over sleepily and opened my eyes. Mochi was already awake next to me, resting her head on her paws.
“How’s my little puppy?” I asked in a baby-talk voice.
She lifted her head when she saw I was awake, opened her mouth, and threw up a pair of my underwear she had eaten out of my laundry basket.
My dog also sleeps with me. Except when he gets off in the middle of the night, pisses on a couch, then jumps back in bed – like I”ll never know somehow.
It was easy to read. And I felt like I have a good idea of who she is. So: the book was more or less a success.