We all know that Ronda Rousey is a tough individual. From the time she was in her mother’s stomach and through her childhood, Ronda had a sometimes hellish existence. In Ronda’s new book, My Fight / Your Fight, she details her unbelievably demanding and painful youth that helped turn her into one of the most feared fighters of all-time.
The New York Post shared an excerpt from the book and tells of the toughest fights of her life.
Rousey was born in Riverside County, Calif., with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. She was blue. Doctors revived her, but those crucial moments without oxygen led to developmental delays. She didn’t begin talking until she was 4 years old.
“At about 6, I began speaking coherently in sentences,” Rousey says. “They told me I had brain damage from the hypoxia. But when you’re a kid, your brain figures out a way to reorganize.”
‘The way I got here wasn’t perfect, it was messy, and there was a lot of shit along the way.’- Ronda Rousey
Her beloved dad and namesake, Ron, encouraged her. “You’re a smart kid,” he’d say. “It’s not like you’re some fuckin’ moron.”
Ron took her shopping for her first doll — a Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy, which she slept with every night. He took her hiking in the woods. At the end of each day, they’d sit together and watch the animal documentary series “Wild Discovery.”
Even as an unborn child, Ronda was a fighter. However her life got even tougher and she had to deal with dark and tragic events at the tender age of 8-years-old.
When Rousey was 8, her father killed himself, committing suicide by asphyxia. He had suffered chronic, acute back pain since a freak accident a few years before, but no one saw it coming.
“None of us were the same after that,” Rousey says. Her father’s death was the most formative event of her life, and she almost never talks about it.
“I never wanted to be in the situation where I’ve told the story so many times that I become detached from it and don’t cry,” Rousey says.
She reveals the moment that she became interested in fighting.
That same year, Rousey had another transformational moment. Rooting around the house, she came across a scrapbook. Inside were photos of her mom, who had her own secret: She had been a judo champion.
“It was an unbelievable discovery as a kid,” Rousey says. “All this time, I’d been looking at my dad as big, strong, invincible, and my mom as the nurturer. I had no idea that my mom could kick my dad’s ass.”
Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, is a sixth-degree black belt and in 1984 became the first American to win the world judo championships.
Inspired, Rousey took up judo, and her mom became her first coach.
‘All this time, I’d been looking at my dad as big, strong, invincible, and my mom as the nurturer. I had no idea that my mom could kick my dad’s ass.’ – Rousey
Ronda’s mother became her coach and she was not going to coddle her 12-year-old daughter.
“I hurt my toe,” I said. “I think it’s broken.”
“It’s a toe,” she said dismissively.
“But it hurts,” I said, crying. “Do you have a pillow for me?”
“What the fuck do you mean a pillow?” she asked. “Go run laps.”
I hobbled away, more hopping than running.
“I said ‘run laps,’ not ‘hop laps,’ ” my mom said. “Run.”
Once she began fighting, things only got more grueling.
Rousey would go on to tear her ACL, break her right hand, break her nose, dislocate an elbow, get bitten by a dog four days before a fight and throw up during another, pushing through it all.
At 16, she dropped out of school, left her family and moved to Boston to train to compete in judo at the 2004 Olympics. She was thriving and unraveling, and began bingeing and purging to make weight.
Despite working countless hours to become a great fighter, Rousey was forced into the real world. She faced the challenges that everyone who moves out of their parents’ house must contend with.
Her mother refused to let her live at home without a job. So, at 18, she went to live with a trainer who stole what little money she had. She found an older boyfriend who lived in his parents’ basement, cheated on her constantly, and told her that, physically, she was “about a six.”
All of the strict scheduling and constant discipline caused Ronda to run off the rails in Los Angeles.
Rousey began smoking and drinking heavily, often beginning her day with a cigarette and a vodka espresso. She developed a pot-and-Vicodin habit. She’d sleep in her car, and when she did find an apartment, all she could afford was a 12-by-12-foot studio.
“On more than one occasion,” she writes, “sewage would come up out of the toilet and shower, and I’d come home from work to an apartment filled with shit. I didn’t think I could get any lower.”
What an incredible story and even more mind-blowing commitment to be a world-class fighter.
My Fight / Your Fight is available on Tuesday, May 12th.