World Champion Thai Boxer Adi Rotem on Why Hard Work Beats Talent

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“Hard work beats talent. Talent isn't enough; you still need to work hard. But if you've got talent and you're a hard worker… Whoa… This is really dangerous – watch out.”
— Adi Rotem

This week's guest is quite possibly one of the toughest, fiercest women on the planet – seriously. Her name is Adi Rotem, and she holds no less than 2 WORLD championship titles in Thai boxing, from both the WAKO and WFCA organizations. As if that weren’t enough, Adi holds a third degree black belt and seven consecutive Israeli national championship titles in mixed martial arts. She also served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a Krav Maga instructor, and has more recently competed in a reality TV show in the Enfusion style of martial arts. Basically, if it is a form of martial arts, Adi has either trained in it or won a title in it.

Believe it or not, Adi actually coaches Thai boxing at the very same gym where I work out every day, and I’ve had the awesome opportunity to do some CrossFit workouts with her, where I’ve been able to witness her incredible energy, strength, and tenacity.

In the interview, Adi and I talk about her incredible journey, and we start to understand her very unique mindset. One thing that was interesting to me was Adi’s belief as to how she became a champion. As you’ll see, she claims that she wasn’t a particularly gifted athlete as a child, and didn’t have any particular physical advantage. Instead, Adi shares with us that her success came predominantly from a burning desire, insane amounts of discipline, and a superhuman work ethic. When you hear Adi speak and tell her story, you’ll immediately understand just how deep her determination goes. It’s a very inspiring story that will help you understand just how much determination it takes to earn the title “World Champion.”

If you take away just one thing from this interview, it should be this: Hard work and determination outweigh natural talent any day of the week.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How Adi discovered and pursued her passion from an early age – and her journey to the world championship
  • Adi's childhood commitment and dedication to martial arts
  • How Adi won a national championship in her first ever Muay Thai fight (!)
  • The 4 things that separate a champion from everyone else
  • If it's possible to spot a champion before they enter the ring – and how Adi's coaches knew she was one
  • How important strength and natural talent are in something like competitive martial arts
  • How Adi sacrificed everything to pursue her dream, and how it made all the difference
  • What a typical day looks like for someone on the road to the world championship
  • What kinds of supplements are allowed and important for a competitive fighter
  • The importance of having good trainers and an incredible support system
  • What it's like to be an Israeli athlete, and Adi's views on sports as seeds of peace
  • The amazing story of why Adi's coach put aside his political sentiments to help her make her country proud
  • Adi's transition from a competitive fighter to a coach, and how that feels
  • Adi's first time being knocked out – in her second-to-last fight ever – and what it was like
  • How Adi defied the boundaries of age to become a champion at age 30 – and compete till 36
  • How Adi Rotem wrapped up her fighting career on a good note
  • Adi's role model and hero, and why she respects her so much
  • Some books that Adi loves
  • What Adi is working on now and her new passion in life
“People come from all over the world, and they all want to be fighters. But only some can make it. And I had to show them – and me – that I'm there for a reason.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes:

“I couldn't develop myself. I [had] already won from the best. It was like full gas – in neutral.”
“A fighter can't be a fighter with no heart.”
“Maybe in the ring I'm by myself… but this is only 60% of the fight – and the winning.”
“It's like gambling. You need to know when to [leave] the table.”
“The ring is like life. You challenge yourself every time. Like in training, like in life.”
“If you believe in yourself, you can do it. So… just do it.”



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