Date of Birth: February 1, 1987
You may not have heard of Ronda Jean Rousey, the mixed martial artist. You may not know that in an ESPN poll, she was voted the Best Best Female Athlete Ever. Heck - you might not even know she was the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in Judo at the Beijing Olympics during the summer of 2008.
But you may know Ronda Rousey the actress. Her breakout role was in The Expendables 3 in 2014. She followed that up with roles in Entourage and Furious 7 in 2015. And she is slated to star in a reboot of Patrick Swayze’s Road House.
Born in Riverside, California to World Judo Champion Gold medalist mother AnnMaria de Mars and father Ron Rousey, she has a mixed ancestry of Afro-Venezuelan, Polish and English. Her early life was difficult.
Her father was a paraplegic after a sledding accident that occurred when he was with his daughters. He was in chronic pain and when he found out he would never recover and that he only had a few years to live, he committed suicide. Rhonda was eight years old at the time.
Even before that, life for Ronda was challenging. During her birth, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. This deprived her of oxygen, which caused a neurological childhood speech sound disorder called apraxia, and for her first six years, she was unable to form intelligible sentences.
To help improve her speech, her parents left California for intensive speech therapy at Minot State University in Jamestown, North Dakota.
Although Ronda swam competitively, after she found a scrapbook of her mother's judo achievements, she took up judo, with her mother as her first coach.
After winning an Olympic bronze medal in judo, she saw an MMA highlight reel on a TV at a bar, and decided to begin a new career. With her judo skills, she quickly rose to the top of the ranks.
At one point, Ronda was a vegan, but describes her diet of today as somewhere between the Paleo and the Warrior diet.
In 2013, her training schedule was interrupted for a 10-month period when she co-starred in The Expendables 3 (2014), marking her first role in a major motion picture. In 2015, she appeared in the film Furious 7, and she played herself in the film Entourage.
Ronda is also interested in charitable work. She is involved with the Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation, whose goal is to save big cats from circus and zoos and provide them with the best lifestyle. ~Sharon Salberg