By Erik Uebelacker
Ronald David Anderson III (Youth A Lightweight) started martial arts when he was six years old to defend himself from school bullies. Ten years later, he’s representing Team USA while fighting to win IMMAF gold.
“First, it was karate; I started because I was getting bullied,” Anderson said. “So, my parents put me in something to learn how to defend myself. I started to really like it. I wanted to do Jiu Jitsu. Now, I’m starting to learn more wrestling. It’s just been a whole rodeo.”
Shortly after his martial arts journey began, Anderson’s issues at school started to disappear.
“People just started respecting me, I guess,” he said. “They knew that I knew how to defend myself… I was holding my shoulders higher. It was definitely a game-changer.”
Anderson’s learned confidence served him well in school. It should also come in handy at this year’s Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi. He’s already fought in an IMMAF Youth World Championship before competing in Bulgaria in 2021.
“I feel way more comfortable [after that], just confident in myself,” Anderson said. “Now, I know I can do this.”
The La Vernia, TX native just turned 16, moving him up an age bracket in this year’s tournament. He’s somewhat of a leader on the U.S. team, cornering and mentoring several younger fighters on the team. For Anderson, his leadership transcends the sport.
“At my dojo, we used to have a lot of kids coming from bullying,” he said. “I saw myself in a lot of them since, when I was younger, I used to get bullied as well. So I always take them under my wing, try to make sure they can defend themselves, and they can take care of themselves, give them a confidence boost.”
Some of those kids Anderson references are competing alongside him in Abu Dhabi. He hopes to give back to the martial arts world that took him in by opening a gym of his own one day. Clearly, MMA has made a significant impact on Anderson’s life. It’s something he says he’s thankful for every day.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “The sport is amazing; I just love it. It’s made me the person I am today. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s my life now.”
Watch the 2022 IMMAF Youth MMA World Championships for 12 to 17-year-olds live from Abu Dhabi from the 17 – 20 August at immaf.tv.