She is an athlete, an actress, an Olympian.
At 28, Ronda Rousey is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) highest-paid competitor, male or female.
At a time when pay equity in sports (the Matildas, anyone?) is but a dream, this is something of a miracle. Especially when you consider the male-oriented blood-sport in which she excels.
She’s notorious because of her skill, because of her charisma, and arguably because she’s a woman who participates in sport in which many believe her sex has no place.
Each UFC match begins with Rousey contemplating how best to inflict grievous bodily harm on her opponent, but she is not, as she has been called, a “barbarian”.
Rousey will come to Australia to fight at Etihad Stadium on November 15, and wrote about her sport, and what led her to it, for the Herald-Sun.
“August of 2008,” she begins, “in Beijing, China, and I was doing everything I could to break the arm of a woman I barely knew from Algeria.”
Not to actually do it, she says, but to let her opponent know that she can, and therefore secure a surrender.
When she’s in the cage, Rousey’s not thinking about hurting her opponent, she’s “problem solving”, she wrote in the Sun-Herald.
To me, fighting is not an exhibition of brutality or a glorification of violence.
Fighting is a metaphor for life.
Everyone you meet every day is fighting for something, but life gets complicated and what you’re fighting for sometimes isn’t very clear.
But an actual fight is in black and white, a relief from all the grays [sic] in the not so literal ones we’re all engaged in.
Rousey was born into a family of problem-solvers: her mum was a judo champion, a sport in which Rousey won an Olympic medal in China.
Her father died by suicide when she was eight years old, which led to such a bottling up of sadness and anguish that without an outlet, may have overflowed.
So Rousey began fighting.
She’s now the UFC Bantamweight Champion.
“What some call a blood sport, I call a high-stakes game of wits,” she writes.
In many ways, she’s really transcended her sporting achievements. She’s appeared in three Hollywood films (The Expendables 3, Furious 7 and Entourage), she’s a regular on late-night chat shows, and her face peers out from the covers of magazines, aimed at both men and women.
Her appeal lies in her strength and skill. This year, she was ranked number one in a list of the 50 Most Dominant Athlete Alive. She is undefeated.
So Rousey would prefer not to be called a barbarian for being really, really good at fighting.
“It’s an escape and an outlet for the artist,” she writes. “And I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t judge me for it.”
Check out Ronda Rousey’s incredible life…