29: AnnMaria De Mars on Raising Ronda Rousey, Aggressive Judo, Math Education, and the Value of Hard Work



In episode 29, I talk with AnnMaria De Mars about being the first American to win the Judo World Championship, raising four kids one of whom is Ronda Rousey the current UFC champion,  getting four degrees including a PhD in applied statistics, her book Winning on the Ground, her blog, her grandmother’s advice, the passing of her husband, the absurdity of sport, coaching an elite level athlete, balancing academics and sport, Ronda’s 2007 World Silver and Olympic Bronze and her matches against Edith Bosch, refusing to lose, being a woman in a combat sport, teaching kids math through computer games at 7 Generation Games, math (and hard work) as an important foundation for long-term success in life, and more.

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Edit: I wrote a blog post with some post-interview takeaways.


AnnMaria on the advice her grandmother gave her:

“Do the best you can with everything you were given. She really believed that quote in the Bible: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.'”

AnnMaria on being asked if she is afraid of death:

“No, I can think of a lot worse things than death. One of the reasons people are afraid of dying is they have regrets. They haven’t done the things they want to do. Because my husband passed away when I was young, that changed the way I thought about things. He was a great guy, worked hard his whole life. There were a lot of things he wanted to do that he never got around to doing because he always thought there would be time later. So now when I want to do something, I do it.  When I look back, I’ve had a lot of accomplishments and experiences in education, academics, I published scientific articles, I wrote a book with Jimmy Pedro Sr, I have wonderful children, so if I died right now I have no regrets. You want to live like you might die tomorrow, because you might die tomorrow.”

AnnMaria on the absurdity of dedicating years of your life to achieving a singular goal like winning a World Championship:

“You have to be smart enough to do it and dumb enough to believe it’s important.”

AnnMaria on what it takes to be successful in judo or in math or in anything:

“You get good at something by doing a lot of it.”

AnnMaria on trash talking:

“Like Dr. Seuss said, ‘Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!'”

AnnMaria on what will go on her tombstone:

“I’m smarter than I look.”

YouTube Version


5 thoughts on “29: AnnMaria De Mars on Raising Ronda Rousey, Aggressive Judo, Math Education, and the Value of Hard Work”

  1. Nice interview. AnnMarie always is interesting. Totally agree with her on math education. I have had both my children tutored in math for many years. The majority of the kids in the program are Asian, Indian, or African (first generation Americans). Guess what America, being good at math is not genetic, it is the result of hard work. Most of my friends with kids agree that math is important BUT, complain their kid is not good in math or that the schools do NOT teach it well. They will never commit to enrolling their kid in a math tutoring program. However, playing on four sports teams a year including all sorts of expensive time consuming travel teams is never a problem.
    Lex had a good point also when he alluded to what is applauded in our American school systems…namely athletics. High achieving academic kids are not recognized enough by the schools, newspapers etc… The local newspapers and schools will gush when some third rate athlete wins the district championship of a third division school but will hardly mention the local kid that placed first in a state-wide academic related competition.
    Thanks for the podcast…very nice!

  2. I loved this interview. It was very informative and inspiring. Ann Marie has done a great job with herself as well bringing up her daughters to be very strong and intelligent women. I hope to be just as empowering to my daughter. Thank you for honoring your strength. Your courage, your story and good hard work is inspiring and blessing to us all. Thank you!

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