I’m going to read Ronda Rousey’s book this week – before Saturday (maybe). Seems like a good week to do so, right? I suspect I won’t learn anything new. I want to put that theory to a test. As such, I am reviewing her book now – having never read it – and then will re-review it after I read it. Kind of a before and after thing. Except not “kind of” but “that’s exactly what it is.” The Ronda Rousey Book Review that wasn’t but will be.
(And no cheating with wikipedia. This is all from memory, having read interviews and watched her career from the beginning. GO!)
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).
Her dad was a kind man, one who worked a manual labor job. He was a firm but fair man.
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.
So, ninja mom would armbar Ronda all the time and that’s why Ronda is so so good at armbars.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
That’s her fight. What’s yours?
I was serosuily at DefCon 5 until I saw this post.