Ronda Jean Rousey (/ˈraʊzi/; born February 1, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, actress, and former mixed martial artist and judoka. She is currently signed to WWE, performing on the Raw brand. Rousey was the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo (bronze), which she won at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She is the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, as well as the last Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
She won 12 consecutive MMA fights, six in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), before suffering her first loss, to Holly Holm in November 2015. She won 11 of those fights in the first round, nine of them by armbar submission. Rousey trains under Gokor Chivichyan of the Hayastan MMA Academy, and Edmond Tarverdyan of the Glendale Fighting Club.
In May 2015, two magazines ranked Rousey as the most “dominant” active athlete. In September 2015, voters in an online ESPN poll selected Rousey as the Best Female Athlete Ever. Later that month, she claimed to be the UFC’s highest paid fighter, male or female. In 2015, she was the third most searched person on Google.
In 2018, Rousey began a career in professional wrestling, signing a contract with WWE, and made her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 34. Rousey’s first feature film role was the 2014 film The Expendables 3. In 2015, she had roles in the films Furious 7 and Entourage.
Ronda Jean Rousey was born in Riverside, California on February 1, 1987, the youngest of three daughters of AnnMaria De Mars (née Waddell) and Ron Rousey,for whom she was named. Her mother, a decorated judoka, was the first American to win a World Judo Championship (in 1984). Rousey is of English, Polish, Trinidadian, and Venezuelan ancestry.
Her Venezuelan maternal grandfather was partly of Afro-Venezuelan descent and her Trinidadian maternal great-grandfather, Alfred E Waddell, was a doctor who emigrated to Canada and became one of the first black physicians in North America. Her stepfather is an aerospace engineer.
Her biological father, after breaking his back sledding with his daughters and learning that he would be a paraplegic, committed suicide in 1995 when Rousey was eight. AnnMaria pursued a Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of California, Riverside as her daughters grew up. For the first six years of her life, Rousey struggled with speech and could not form an intelligible sentence due to apraxia, a neurological childhood speech sound disorder.
This speech disorder was attributed to being born with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. When Rousey was three years old, her mother and father moved from Riverside, California, to Jamestown, North Dakota, to obtain intensive speech therapy with specialists at Minot State University. Rousey dropped out of high school and later earned her GED.
She was raised between Jamestown and Southern California, retiring from her judo career at 21 and starting her MMA career at 22 when she realized that she did not want to spend her life in a conventional field of work. Rousey began judo with her mother at the age of 11. Rousey trained with her mother until she was 13 after accidentally breaking her mother’s wrist.
t 17, Rousey qualified for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, becoming the youngest judoka in the entire Games. Rousey lost in her first match to silver medalist Claudia Heill in the 63 kg bracket. Also in 2004, Rousey won a gold medal at the World Junior Judo Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
In April 2006, she became the first female U.S. judoka in nearly 10 years to win an A-Level tournament as she went 5-0 to claim gold at the Birmingham World Cup in Great Britain. Later that year, the 19-year-old won the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships, becoming the first U.S. athlete ever to win two Junior World medals. In February 2007, Rousey moved up to 70 kg where she ranked as one of the top three women in the world.
She won the silver medal at the 2007 World Judo Championships in the middleweight division and the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. In August 2008, Rousey competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. She lost her quarterfinal to the Dutch ex-world champion Edith Bosch but qualified for a Bronze medal match through the repechage bracket.
Rousey defeated Annett Boehm by Yuko to win a bronze medal (note: judo offers two bronze medals per weight class). With the victory, Rousey became the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s judo since its inception as an Olympic sport in 1992. Rousey retired from judo at 21 after the Olympics.
After winning her Olympic medal, Rousey shared a studio apartment with a roommate in Venice Beach, California and worked three jobs as a bartender and cocktail waitress to support herself and her dog. When Ronda started learning judo, her mom took her to judo clubs run by her old teammates.
Ronda went to Hayastan MMA Academy run by Gokor Chivichyan, where she trained with fellow future MMA fighters Manny Gamburyan and Karo Parisyan. According to Rousey, Hayastan practiced “a more brawling style of judo versus the more technical Japanese style.” Rousey trained mostly with males bigger than her and often got frustrated and cried when she got thrown and couldn’t throw somebody. “Probably from 2002 to 2005 I cried every single night of training,” Rousey remarked.