Inspired By Bob Marley, Kade Ruotolo Wants To Have A Positive Impact On The World
Kade Ruotolo experienced a true breakout year in 2022.
The California native became the youngest athlete in history to claim an ADCC gold medal, captured the inaugural ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Championship, and earned more fame and fortune than ever before.
But Ruotolo, who makes his second World Title defense against Tommy Langaker at ONE Fight Night 11: Eersel vs. Menshikov on Prime Video, isn’t seeking celebrity status and immense wealth in 2023. Instead, he has narrowed his focus.
As he prepares for his U.S. primetime return at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday, June 9, Ruotolo is looking to simplify things a little bit.
The 20-year-old just wants to continue building his legacy, as well as boil life down to the few most important elements.
“I think this last year, with all the attention, a lot more accolades, and a lot more money coming into my life, I found a lot more of my focus shifting back to my roots, my family, and things like that.
“I think what [my brother Tye Ruotolo] and I have been noticing is that before you wanted to buy some clothes or a car, this or that, and now we just want to set up our gym in Costa Rica, our house, and think about living rather than so much materialistic things.”
The American BJJ prodigy has kept a busy competition schedule, but it’s his time away from the action and intensity that gives him the bandwidth to see life on his own terms.
Being on the go all the time is enough to burn anyone out, but after he has competed, he loves to slow things down and catch his breath.
“Before, I feel like we got lost in the work and you take a lot of the fun out. And it’s one thing my brother and I have worked really hard on – working hard and playing hard, and keeping the balance. So after every fight camp, we like to go to Costa Rica and just do the opposite.
“[We’ll go] three weeks without our phones and just press the reset button. It’s mandatory for us to keep the fire going, to keep wanting to do this.”
A Legacy Deeper Than Competitive Success
Despite not seeking it, Kade Ruotolo loves the recognition he gets from his martial arts success. However, he is determined to use it in the right way.
The ONE Lightweight Submission Grappling World Champion doesn’t want the VIP treatment or to be held up on a pedestal. Instead, he wants to take his massive platform and reach out to others, spread positivity, and inspire people.
“It’s been really cool [getting the fame and recognition]. I think everyone’s lying if they don’t say they love it. There are so many opportunities coming our way.
“From a social media standpoint and things like that, we’ve definitely been a lot more busy, which can be difficult at times. But it’s also amazing to be able to reach out to everyone, to be able to talk to everyone.”
With that in mind, don’t expect the California native to suddenly go off the rails or act arrogant. The humble titleholder doesn’t want that type of reputation.
Ruotolo would rather have people remember the uplifting influence he had on them, just like the role models he admired during his childhood and adolescence.
“Bob Marley mentioned one time that the greatness of a man is not how much wealth he acquires, but the ability he has to affect those around him positively. So, that’s what I believe.
“I remember being a kid, looking up to people like ‘Professor This Guy’ or ‘That Guy.’ I remember certain guys were not that cool to me and guys that were super cool to me as a young kid. So, I always try to be like the guy that was super cool to the young kid.”