By RISHABH KAPOOR, junior
Of all the women known for “fighting” for women’s rights, Ronda Rousey far from the most renowned. Maybe her relative anonymity as a female activist is because she actually fights, but not primarily for women’s rights. Rousey initially followed her staunch passion for Judo, which was instilled into her when she was 11 by her mother, the first U.S. citizen to win a World Judo Championship. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Rousey won a bronze medal in Judo, becoming the first American to medal in Judo at the Olympics since the sport was introduced to the games in 1992.
After a rousing career in Judo, Rousey picked up Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and became acquainted with the armbar, a submission technique in which professional fighters pull their opponent’s arms against their thighs, and, with their arms, lock their opponent’s arm.
This technique became Rousey’s infamous trademark when she used it to capture and defend the Women’s Bantamweight Championship title. In November of 2012, Rousey became the first female fighter to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). She was denuded of the title on November 15, 2015 when fellow fighter Holly Holmes handed Rousey her first MMA defeat. Although the loss was heartbreaking, there is little doubt that the youthful, charismatic fighter will reenter the ring with her head held high. In fact, UFC President Dana White is sure there will be a rematch, stating: “Yeah, that fight’s going to happen [again]. I don’t know when, but that’s the fight that will happen.”
Nevertheless, Ronda has always been very self-conscious and has struggled with her body image, convinced by the derision of others that she is too masculine. She refutes the popular belief the MMA is exclusive to males, claiming, “There are so many ridiculous arguments that MMA is somehow anti-woman. Fighting is not a man’s thing, it is a human thing. To say that it is anti-woman is an anti-feminist statement.” With this valiant attitude, Ronda Rousey continues to be a guiding light for young female athletes around the world, including those at JP Stevens.
We asked some of the female senior athletes at our own school how Rousey has inspired their high school careers and how they have strived for success:
- How does Ronda Rousey inspire girls to succeed in a male-dominated field?
Claire Pan (tennis captain): Ronda Rousey inspires girls everywhere to succeed in male-dominated fields with her self-confidence and toughness. Athletics, especially UFC fighting, is predominately known as a man’s territory; Ronda Rousey doesn’t care. She’ll even challenge Floyd Mayweather because she doesn’t see being a girl as a disadvantage.
2. What contributes most to your success as an amazing female athlete?
Kayla Smith (volleyball and softball captain): I just like the overall drive to succeed. When I step on the volleyball court or the softball field, all my focus goes to every aspect of that game. I guess passion and motivation make me want to succeed and show my full potential.
Kathy Tong (basketball captain): Personally, I’m never complacent in where I am as an athlete. I know that I have so much room for improvement to get to that “next” level in my sport and in my athletic ability. Sometimes I like to train with boys because they’re stronger and faster than I am, and that pushes me to work harder.
3. Ronda just lost her last fight, but the whole world expects her to come back from this. As an athlete, how do you find a way to persevere after a failure?
Kayla Smith: You have to have a short memory in any sport you play. Even after making one silly mistake, if you dwell on it long enough, that obsession could potentially ruin the way you play for the rest of the game. After a loss, I would say it’s hard to just forget and move on. There are definitely some games that are so mentally frustrating; you have to push yourself to move on and focus on the next game. Sometimes you just have to keep saying, “Today wasn’t our day, but just wait for tomorrow.” I always focus all the frustration of losing (because sometimes it really sucks) on winning the next game we play.
Claire Pan: I don’t think there is any athlete that hasn’t experienced failure before. The most important part is to learn from the experience and start building toward your next success.
Kathy Tong: I remember all my previous losses and use those to fuel my goals (to break previous basketball records). No, Ronda Rousey’s loss doesn’t affect anything because she’s still amazing. She’s both strong and beautiful, and independent. Her loss has no bearing on her credibility as an amazing athlete and person.