Through My Father’s Eyes: The Ronda Rousey Story is produced and directed by Gary Stretch, and the British boxing champion, model, and actor, is front and center in this documentary. His take on Ronda Rousey is that of an avid fan, and that tone is consistent throughout. Comprised of footage taken over six years of Rousey’s career, an interview of Rousey conducted in 2011 by Stretch takes center stage in the narrative.
At the time of this linchpin interview, Rousey had made the move to Strikeforce, but was not yet the bantamweight champion. Even so, she was clearly looking ahead to the UFC, her ambition and confidence evident. This fresh, optimistic and driven Ronda is the lens through which the entire documentary is viewed.
Stretch clearly put in the time to follow the developing story, and conducted in depth interviews with a number of Rousey’s trainers and friends. Most notably, Judo Gene LeBell is present throughout, adding needed flavor to the show. Interestingly, he makes a throwaway comment about how Rousey uses her judo in all of her wins, and if she ever loses her judo, she would lose, period. It feels prophetic in retrospect.
While Stretch makes much of Rousey’s childhood challenges, especially her speech impediment and the loss of her father to suicide when she was eight, the documentary is at its most interesting when interviewing Rousey’s cohorts. Roman Mitchyan, Big John McCarthy, Gokor Chivichyan, Edmond Tarverdyan, Dana White, and Randy Couture, and many more take their turn being interviewed by Stretch.
Interestingly, many of those interviewed make bizarrely frank assessments of Rousey’s supposedly masculine nature. For example, McCarthy comments that “she is a man with a vagina.” Several years ago, when these interviews were conducted, a female fighter was likely to be perceived as hyper masculine simply because she was fighting.
It is hard not wonder what could have been with this documentary. There are plenty of people in this world who are not fans of Ronda, and interviews with fellow fighters such as Miesha Tate could have made this project more dynamic. As it is, it offers one-sided insight, but insight nonetheless, and it is hard to argue with its conclusion—Ronda Rousey made a revolutionary impact on the sport of woman’s MMA.