It’s been nearly 20 years since the death of Ronda Rousey‘s father, Ron Rousey, but she’s still motivated by his untimely passing every time she hits the Octagon.
In a new column for Australian newspaper the Herald Sun, the undefeated UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion detailed how she parlayed her grief over her father’s suicide into her career as ESPN’s 2015 Best Female Athlete.
“For some reason I lost my father to suicide at eight years old,” the 28-year-old wrote. “I had so much bottled up grief and anger and self-loathing and for some reason I found an outlet that saved me.”
Rousey said she doesn’t regard fighting as an “exhibition of brutality or a glorification of violence,” but rather 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,” she wrote.
The athlete, who is the first female to cover Men’s Fitness Australia for their November issue, said everyone needs to put themselves into an uncomfortable situation to feel “awake.” For her, fighting is that situation.
“Of all the things in the world I have to worry about in the past and future, the only thing on my mind during a fight is that exact moment and the problem I’m trying to solve,” she wrote. “It’s an escape and an outlet for the artist. It’s not a brawl. It’s not gore and brutality. It’s an art.”
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Rousey also told Men’s Fitness Australia that her dad was “a really big influence. He was only with us for a short time but he influenced me a lot and still does to this day.”