Monday, May 4, 2009

Ronda Rousey's Olympic Tattoos

As many of my resources were tied up with the Tattooed Poets Project in April, I kept my encounters with random tattooed people in New York to a minimum, saving them for special occasions.

However, I couldn't resist on Tuesday, April 21, when I spotted a familiar symbol on the right ankle of a woman in the Amtrak section of Penn Station:

Those are, of course, the recognizable Olympic rings.

One can imagine how pleased I was when the individual to whom this tattoo belonged was open to discussing not only her tattoos, but their significance.

For Ronda Rousey, like many athletes (see this New York Times article here), getting tattoos to commemorate attendance and participation in the Olympics, is a rite of passage.

But Ronda isn't just any Olympic athlete. She participated in both the 2004 games in Athens, and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In fact, she won the Bronze Medal in China in the sport of judo (middleweight division)

and became the first American woman ever to medal in that event.

She actually has at least three pieces that
circumventcircumnavigate her ankle. The tail end of one can be seen to the left of the Olympic rings. Here's the beginning (and majority) of the slogan:

That is "Citius, Altius, Fortius," which is the motto of the modern Olympic games. Translated into English it means "Swifter, Higher, Stronger".

Also on the ankle is a third element, which is a Greek head garland:

This is a symbol of the 2004 Athens games, at which Ronda also competed.

She did not medal that year, but she was also the youngest, at 17, judo competitor in the Games, and was a rising star.

A resident of Los Angeles, Ronda had all three tattoos done at Ink Monkey Tattoo in Venice, California.

On a side note, personally, I always get a charge out of meeting a complete stranger and talking to them about their tattoos. That excitement is the fuel that energizes the Tattoosday experience for me.

Days later, I was still pumped about meeting an Olympic athlete. Most Olympians will say they're just like everyone else, normal folks like you and me. But, I beg to differ. Ronda isn't a member of the "Dream Team" or a star in track or gymnastics or beach volleyball or any of the "marquis" events. Nonetheless, here is a woman who participates in a sport and, in August 2008, was one of the top three women in the world in that event. She accomplished what so many athletes aspire to. She stood on a podium and even though the Star-Spangled Banner wasn't blaring on the P.A. system, she wore a medal around her neck and saw the American flag raised because of her remarkable athletic accomplishment.

It is an honor to have her featured here on Tattoosday and I thank her profusely, from the bottom of my tattoo-loving heart.

Thanks to Ronda for sharing her tattoos with us here on Tattoosday!


Kara said...

I'm not sure what word you meant to use, but "circumvent" means to avoid or bypass something. I doubt very seriously that her tattoo is bypassing her ankle.

Bill Cohen said...

Um, oops! Thanks Kara. I was shy a few letters. I meant circumnavigate, although the simpler "circle" would suffice, too. I appreciate you bringing that to my attention,