At not yet 29 years old, and among her many accomplishments, Ronda Rousey has a New York Times bestselling autobiography out, and this fan set out to read it in the hopes of getting some tips. You know, just in case I need to debilitate someone with an armbar in a confined octagonal-shaped space.
Disclaimer: Rousey’s voice shines through in this book. Meaning, it’s filled with a lot of hyperbolic, aggro, alpha-dog language. So while I cringed at some of the sentences and “lessons,” it was comforting to know that this really is Ronda telling her story.
The chapters on her childhood, as well as her ongoing relationship with her mother, are informative in explaining where Rousey gets her aggression and drive, and it should be noted that not only is Ronda’s mother quite accomplished, but the book is co-authored by her sister Maria Ortiz, a journalist who contributes for various publications, including ESPN. So while not the prettiest of reads, as a weekend warrior athlete, I rabidly consumed this in the hopes of finding something that could inspire me as I battle back from injury, and I did indeed find some educational nuggets.
1. “If you’re an athlete and want to win, something always hurts. You are always dealing with bruises and injuries. You’re testing how far you can push the human body, and whoever pushes it the furthest wins” (p. 44).
Something always hurts. Now I get it — I’m not in a sport where there’s physical contact, but I am a 48-year old marathoner (I hope!). I was pretty much injury free until my mid-40s, and that includes when I got my black belt at the age of 41. In that sport, I was sparring, kicking, and breaking things, but I managed to stay healthy. Unfortunately, when I turned 45 and upped my running mileage, the injuries increased as well. And while I’m going to try to get as healthy as possible — and believe me, I’m doing all the rolling, stretching, icing, therapy I can — at some point, if I want to run marathons at my age, something will probably be achy. So I can kind of accept that I’ll be a little tight and achy if I’m going to push my body this hard, or I can run shorter distances. So far I’m going with option A.
2. “If you can’t dream big, ridiculous dreams, what’s the point in dreaming at all?” (p. 128)
This spoke to Rousey’s dream to be an MMA champion and fighting on TV when there had never been a female fighter in the UFC. Sometimes I think it’s crazy for me as I get older and achier to keep dreaming about getting a sub-4:00 marathon. In fact, I had one friend tell me flat out that I wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s a bit crazy, but I guess until something puts an end to my marathoning career permanently, I’ll keep aiming for it. Besides, striving for something perpetually out of reach seems a good enough way to spend my time.
3. “The joint snapped back into place.” (p. 134)
So Rousey was fighting this German who purposely dislocated her elbow for a second time, only this time the referee didn’t catch her (she was disqualified in the previous fight). Rousey had never forfeited a match, and was not going to do so now. Ronda tensed her arm, took a deep breath and pushed as hard she could, popped that thing back into place, and kept fighting. So basically, Ronda is one bad-ass motherfucker. But we knew that, right? I just super enjoyed this part of the book.
4. There’s No Secret to Why Rousey is Successful. (Basically the entire book.)
Rousey works hard. Really really hard. The book is primarily chapters detailing what she endured training-wise and lifestyle-wise to get where she is. It’s no surprise why she is so dominant or why she is so confident. She has been focused – singularly focused — on being a judo champion and then an MMA fighter for, well, about 300 pages. It is impressive and inspiring.
If you’re into Ronda or women who go after it, then this is a fun fast read. Perhaps I can best illustrate the flavor and tone of this book by giving you its last sentence, which is in the acknowledgements (“Thank You”) chapter. After listing her parents, trainers, coaches, publisher, etc., she closes with this.
“And to every asshole who motivates me to succeed out of spite.”
I’m so down for that.