Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review of Rousey: My Fight/Your Fight.

No one had believed the UFC would ever admit women. Not fans. Not other fighters. Not the media. Not my mom. Not the face of the UFC himself.
People told me it would never happen. They told me I was insane.
But you can’t let other people affect your belief in yourself. People are going to tell you to be logical and to be reasonable. They’re going to say that because no one else has ever done something, that it can’t be done. You have to be crazy enough to believe that you are the one person in the history of the world who can create that change or accomplish that dream. Many people are going to doubt you and tell you reasons why you can’t and why you shouldn’t. You can choose to accept them or reject them. I had ignored everyone who said it could never be done. Now I was going to be the first woman ever in
the UFC. ( Rousey, P. 181)

In recent years it's not very often that I have the patience to read through books from start to finish. Most get boring at some point, and it's a struggle to finish.

To describe Rousey as engaging and riveting does some justice for a description. This book is not just a great read - it's a journey. You live and experience what Ronda lived and experienced. From her Judo career, through two Olympics (2004, 2008), with its unfulfilled dreams and disappointment, followed by a lost year of inactivity in any sport, to the pinnacle of MMA fighting in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), and the first women's Champion and title holder in the UFC.

Rousey can rightly be called the pioneer of women in UFC, and without her, it may never have happened.

During a very brief encounter with UFC President Dana White, Rousey was surprised and flattered that White knew who she was, and shook her hand. That would be the beginning of the end for Dana White's conviction that "women will never fight in the UFC". It was eventually Rousey who single-highhandedly changed White's view.

Eventually, White would boldly say on a national broadcast that "Ronda Rousey is the biggest star the UFC has ever had". Rousey also recently confirmed on the Ellen DeGeneres show that she's the highest paid fighter in the UFC, which goes a long way to express White's total confidence in her. Her drawing power is enormous.

Even a mere several years ago, not a single person on the planet could have predicted this, not even the UFC President himself.

And that's just a prelude to the incredible human being that Ronda Rousey is. Even in her worst and most desperate financial times, when she slept in the back of her foul-smelling car, looked for cheap gas, and was worried that she might not be able to meet bill payments, or even find somewhere to live other than a back seat, the reader experiences her desperation, her anxiety, and many would likely say, "I've been there too". And that's what's so captivating about Rousey. No silver spoons, no special privileges, and many disadvantages which most of us would shirk away from in a loss of hope, in despair.  But this is why Rousey is a compelling and riveting read. You don't get to the top by accident - you have to constantly work at it, with a full belief in yourself.

Even during her worst moments of trial, she would say that this was part of the book that she would eventually write. This is the "bad time", this part of her autobiography. Her faith that she would eventually conquer all adversity, and maybe leave lessons for others who are struggling. 

And adversity is something Rousey experienced all her life, from the death of her father, and eventually revisiting his grave and "talking to him", hoping that he was proud of her for what she'd accomplished in her life, to all the highs and lows of martial arts.

Rousey is always positive, almost always seems to have a genuine smile, laugh or a joke at hand, and infectiously comes across as one who really loves life, and has a driving faith that she will eventually retire from MMA unbeaten. And then the next chapter will begin - her acting career.

Rousey is a book more than worth reading. It's a personal epic. It's not just a read - it's an experience, and for many it could even be a life-changing experience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Ronda Rousey in Australia. UFC 193.

MMA has been popular in Australia for many years, going back a very long way, even before the UFC was officially formed in 1993 (although it wasn't known as "MMA" before UFC):

Between 1905-1914, Australian's witnessed a prizefighting novelty called "All-in" which started with "jiu jitsu" demonstrations and developed into a no-holds barred fighting phenomenon. One of the most notable participants was Sam McVea, an African-American heavyweight boxing champion who would participate in a highly publicised "all-in" fight in Lismore, Australia, against 'Prof.' Stevenson in 1913.

Mixed martial arts in Australia.

UFC promotion in Australia. 

 Questions and Answers to Rousey and Dana White from Aussie fans of MMA:

UFC 193 Promo: Revolution.

If you're looking forward to UFC in Melbourne as much as I am, check out one of the other biggest stars in UFC today.The 115 pound Straw-weight Champion. The Straw-weight fight is the co-fight in the main event if UFC 193. And to think that Dana White once said, "women will never fight in the UFC".

 Joanna Jędrzejczyk

Behind the scenes of the making of the UFC 193 promo video:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Day Georja Died.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them." (Ode of Rememberance)

"This incident is nothing short of an absolute tragedy." - Detective Inspector Glen Broadhead (NSW Police). 

To most, she's just another road death statistic. But to me, she's the day I realised that even after nearly 30 years of observing carnage on the roads as a professional driver, that we're not doing enough to stop the carnage. The message isn't getting through.

When I arrived at the scene of the accident at about 1.45am on Monday morning, I didn't know who the occupants of the badly mangled car were. By that time they were pulled from the vehicle, and transported to hospitals. Reports say that Georja died at the accident spot. She was only 15 years old. I didn't learn this until later in the morning. Hardened to these sort of things over nearly 30 years, I was surprised about how I felt about this one - incredibly saddened, largely because it was so unnecessary, and so avoidable, and cost such a young and innocent life.

Georja's life stops here, at the crossroads of Flinders Street and Old Port Road, Port Kembla, in the early hours of Monday 17 August, 2015. She will never grow up, marry or partner, and have children of her own. Her life stops at fifteen.

When will the carnage stop? Only when we as a society decide do to more, and this isn't just a "police responsibility"; it's the responsibility of all of us as citizens. To educate, and warn of the dangers. 


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kyle Petty Revises His View of Danica Patrick: "NASCAR Needs Her".

"Our two most popular drivers are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick. That puts a lot of eyes on the sport," Petty said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "And if she's not here, we lose half of that excitement and half of that popularity. I think it's important for her to be here for NASCAR, just from the standpoint that the more people that watch, the more people know who Trevor Bayne is, they know who A.J. Allmendinger is, they know who some of these other drivers are. You already know who Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are, and Jimmie Johnson. It's important to have more people watch and have more people following. I think she definitely helps that."

Danica Patrick is important to NASCAR, Kyle Petty says.

It's very likely that only followers of NASCAR will realise this commentary by Kyle Petty for what it is - a bombshell. And if you need some insight into that, read the comments on Danica Patrick's Facebook Page.

Her fans, of whom there are many, and her detractors, of whom there are many, will tell you the same thing - for good or bad, Kyle Petty's recent statements are nothing short of astonishing, considering what both he and his famous father, Richard Petty, had to say about Danica's venture into NASCAR.

Nearly a year ago on this blog, I expressed the view Kyle Petty now apparently holds:

Why NASCAR Needs Danica Patrick.

Six months before that post, I expressed this view about "The Power of One":

The Power of One - How I Became a Fan of NASCAR.

What it really comes down to is the "It" factor. You either have "It", or you don't. Drawing power, that is. I refer to myself as a "NASCAR rookie", yet over the past 18 months, since I started following NASCAR, I've come to know all the names, and even much of the racing history, of all the drivers in the Sprint Cup (I don't follow the others, such as trucking and XFinity, as much). And my appreciation of all of them has grown greatly. But in my obviously biased view, none of them has the "It" factor that Danica does. And it's not just a "female thing". Women have competed in NASCAR, and currently compete in IndyCar (and also competed against Danica). It's just that none of them has performed as well as Danica has, and her Wiki Bio  says it all.

When it comes to the "It" factor, I really don't think it matters much whether one is male or female. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Interview With Nicole Kidman in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

I'd heard some years ago that Nicole Kidman and her husband Keith Urban had bought a property in the Southern Highlands, which is about an hour's drive from where I live in Wollongong (for 41 years, actually). For the reader unfamiliar with the geography, the Southern Highlands are about 114 kilometres to the southwest of Sydney.

The Highlands recently had fairly heavy snowfalls, or what we call "Christmas in July".

Snow in the Southern Highlands (click to enlarge):

The interview published byVogue was, however, the first time I've been able to get an inside look at my neighbour-an-hour-removed.

Two things really struck me about this video. While an occasional sideview wrinkle is apparent for a millisecond, Kidman does not look anything like her 48 years. The Vogue photo brought cynical claims about "photoshopping" (see links below). But there's no photoshopping in the video, where Kidman doesn't look a day over 30.

The second is her quick, and quick-witted replies to "73 questions" in rapid fire. Most of us would pause, sometimes at length, to the questions fired at us. Of course it's possible that she got a draft copy of the questions, and had some time to think about them. But it sure doesn't look so from the video, or maybe it's just her brilliant acting showing up.

Whatever the truth, the most striking thing about Nicole Kidman, is that these days one of the things she enjoys most - is to laugh.

Moulin Rouge:


Inside Nicole Kidman's Southern Highlands home: video.

10 things we learned from Nicole Kidman’s Vogue video interview.

Nicole Kidman, in a Rare, Down-to-Earth Interview, on Her New Adventure.

Nicole Kidman's 'frozen' face appears on Vogue cover, angers critics.