We’ve all read stories about how Ronda Rousey became a beast on the mats training with the tough Armenians like Karo Parisyan and Manny Gamburyan as a girl at Gokor Chivichyan’s gym, but few actually know the real battles the bubbly Strikeforce number one bantamweight contender has gone through in her life.
In a recent feature by SI’s Loretta Hunt, Rousey revealed that her precarious life path began early in life as she could not speak until she was six due to complications at birth.
Of any fighter, it’s fitting that Rousey knows the value of making her voice be heard — she couldn’t put together coherent sentences until the age of six.
Rousey was born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck; her body was blue and she wasn’t breathing. She was revived in the delivery room, but when her communicative skills quickly fell behind the norm, the doctors thought she’d suffered brain damage or that she might be deaf.
When she began to talk, Rousey’s words were jumbled and she was sent to speech therapy classes. Frustration was a daily occurrence, as nobody could understand her.
Soon after Ronda began speaking and had overcome one of her biggest challenges, one of the most important people in her life was struck with a double-whammy.
She watched her father break his back after crashing into a snow-covered log at the bottom of a hill on a family sledding trip. He was later diagnosed with Bernard-Soulier syndrome, a rare blood disorder that made a full recovery from his back injuries impossible.
What came next would change Rousey’s life forever.
When doctors told him he’d be paralyzed and would die within two years, Rousey’s father committed suicide in 1995 rather than have his family watch him deteriorate. Rousey was only eight years old.
“He said he didn’t want our last memories of him laying in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of him,” Rousey told Hunt. “He was a proud man, a provider. He didn’t want to drain the family anymore.”
As if we needed another reason to root for “Rowdy.” Now we have one.
Do yourself a favor and check out Hunt’s story. It’s worth the read.