Ronda Rousey: What do we want from her?

I have known several serious martial artists in my life. While it is always a bad idea to generalize, the men and women who are serious about their art, are among the finest athletes and people I have met.

Ronda RouseyNow I need to make a distinction. By using the term martial artist, I am not referring to some clown who gets liquored up in a dive on a Saturday night and takes on the world with a bar stool and a pool cue or a guy who watches Bruce Lee movies and picks a fight in an alley. I am referring to a man or woman who spends hours a day in a gym, Dojo or other facility training, sparring, training, sparring for years at a time…you get the picture.

Among the martial artists I have known, most have overcome fears, physical ailments, poor childhoods and young adulthoods to push through and become good human beings. Most martial artists have a problem with bullies because often, they too were once bullied. Many martial artists are great athletes in general who come from diverse athletic backgrounds ranging from the expected (such as wrestling) to the unexpected (such as dancers and cross country runners).

Enter Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey has exploded on the martial arts scene as being one of the most dominant people in the world of MMA, let alone in athletics.

Many of you may know this, but for those who don’t, when she was born her brain was oxygen deprived and she could not speak until she was six or seven years of age. When she was eight, her father committed suicide.

Her mother got her involved in Judo when Ronda turned 11; it was an act of kindness and love, to help the young woman heal and give her confidence. Fast forward to the 2008 Olympics, Rousey was the first American to win the gold medal in Judo. She retired from amateur athletics at the age of 23, and became involved in MMA fighting Bantamweight. She has gone undefeated in UFC. Her last bout, against Cat Zingano on February 28, 2015, lasted a total of 14 seconds (this is not a spelling error).

However, a strange phenomenon has taken place. There is a media circus surrounding Rousey. I wonder if it because she…is a she. I wonder if it is because she is undefeated or I wonder if it is something else.

Make no mistake; MMA is not a feely-touchy sport – we all know that. However, in that world, fighters fight, and they are matched by weight and skill level, and they have a shot against each other. It is the world outside the ring or mat or octagon where the lines get blurred.

Rousey is an attractive woman and she has dabbled in modeling and acting. Yes, I am aware of the illegally posted images, but the main point is that she is also cashing in on her looks and acting work. There is no law against that.

Here’s some names, “past and present” to consider: Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant, Derek Jeter, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, and Charles Barkley have all done modeling and acting. OK, Serena Williams, Mary Lou Retton, Misty Treanor, Chris Evert, and on and on as well.

Recently Rousey has said some things and that may be the key to all this “obsession.” Because she is so dominating in her sport, she was asked if women should fight men. She said it would send the wrong message. I could not agree more. She was asked about the Ray Rice case, and her response was that women should have more respect for themselves. Most interestingly, when she defeated Cat Zingano in 14 seconds, she promised her a re-match because she knew that her opponent had had a rough time with things, especially given the fact that Zingano’s husband had committed suicide. A point to which Rousey could understand and relate.

I am not saying that Ronda Rousey is perfect or a complete angel, but she seems an ethical decent person. I think that just bothers the “Haters” to no end. Here is a very tough, attractive woman who also has a strong ethical streak. Maybe it’s the ethics; maybe in the world of flawed athletes, here’s an athlete who wants to do the right thing. It bothers some people.

Let her be and let’s take pride in her art.

Sometimes it’s good enough for us fans to be happy for someone who is gifted and who does the right thing. She is proof that ethics and talents can go together.





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