Ronda Rousey biography
Born on February 1, 1987, in Riverside, California, Ronda Rousey endured a tough childhood marked by speech problems and her father's suicide. She became a judo champion, earning back-to-back gold medals at the Pan American Championships and a 2008 Olympic bronze medal. Rousey joined the mixed martial arts circuit in 2010, and has since emerged as a crossover star as the UFC Bantamweight Champion.
Ronda Jean Rousey was born on February 1, 1987, in Riverside, California. Born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, Rousey nearly died from a lack of oxygen and sustained slight brain damage, which impeded her ability to speak an intelligible word until she was 6.
A tragedy fell upon the family when Rousey's dad, Ron, broke his back while sledding with his daughters. A blood disorder prevented him from healing properly, and after learning he would be a paraplegic in the few years he had left to live, he committed suicide when Rousey was 8.
Rousey struggled in class and was homeschooled for parts of elementary and high school, but she found an outlet for her frustration when her mom, Ann Maria DeMars, persuaded her to learn judo at age 11. A gold medal–winning judoka at the 1984 World Championships, Ann Maria began drilling her daughter in some of the sport's fundamentals, most notably the dreaded armbar used to pin an opponent to the mat.
Rousey was named to the United States Olympic team at age 15, and at 16 she became the youngest American to earn the national No. 1 ranking in the women's half-middleweight division. Although she didn't earn a medal at the 2004 Olympics, she claimed gold at that year's World Junior and Pan American Judo Championships.
After defending her Pan American Judo Championship title in 2006, Rousey became the first American woman in 12 years to earn a World Championship medal by finishing second in the 2007 tournament. She then won gold at the 2007 Pan American Games, despite a torn knee meniscus. After earning the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, she retired from judo at age 21.
Mixed Martial Arts Fame
Unsure of what to do in the wake of her judo career, Rousey worked as a bartender and lived out of her car for a spell in Los Angeles. She eventually joined the Glendale Fighting Club and in August 2010 made her amateur debut in mixed martial arts, a victory by way of an armbar after just 23 seconds. Two more amateur bouts ended via armbar submission after 57 and 24 seconds, respectively.
Rousey continued her run of domination after turning pro in the sport, reeling off four straight wins in under a minute apiece. In March 2012, she became the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion by defeating Miesha Tate in four minutes and 27 seconds.
By this point, Rousey had become a crossover star with her good looks and penchant for first trash-talking and then brutally dispatching her opponents. She was featured on a cover of ESPN The Magazine's 2012 Body Issue, and appeared as a guest on Conan O'Brien's talk show.
After one more speedy victory, Rousey was the first woman to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world's largest mixed martial arts league. Designated Bantamweight Champion, she successfully defended her belt in the inaugural UFC women's bout in February 2012, submitting Liz Carmouche via her patented armbar in four minutes and 49 seconds, her longest fight to date.
In the summer of 2013, Rousey appeared in another sexy photo spread, for Maxim, and announced plans to star in the upcoming action films The Expendables 3 and Fast & Furious 7. Having achieved celebrity status, it remained to be seen whether she could sustain the drive to succeed in the brutal sport that had made her a star.