Mauro Ranallo – Never Give Up
World famous announcer Mauro Ranallo was living the dream when he was struck by tragedy. World famous announcer Mauro Ranallo was living the dream when he was struck by tragedy. This is the inspiring story of how one man found strength even in the darkest of times.
Well, I’m not supposed to be here. I’m actually not supposed to be alive.
I thought I was going to die. I felt like I was in prison, I was scared.
I was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, on December 21st, 1969. My parents Elio and Duilia Ranallo were immigrants from Italy, who of course, like so many millions of others, came to North America looking for a better life. And they put down roots on our six acre farm. At a very young age, I knew that there was something a little different with me in terms of the way I reacted to people and sounds, and I became infatuated with television and radio.
My father and I always had issues in terms of who I was and who he wanted me to be. My dad being your stereotype of the old-school immigrant dad, working hard, getting your hands dirty. Life is tough, nothing is easy, nothing’s going to be given to you. I was the antithesis of that, and it caused a lot of problems between my father and I growing up. I was an artist. I was ultra sensitive. I didn’t like doing manual chores. And because of that, I became even more ultra shy, where I would lock myself in my room, or being almost a mute at home.
So in school, I was put in lockers, the kid that was bullied, the kid that was picked on, the kid who was made to feel stupid even though he got great marks. It was not a good time. It was a very depressing time. And thankfully, one friend that I was able to make was Michael John Janzen. We lived not too far away from each other, and quickly discovered that we both shared a love of professional wrestling.
Other kids would make fun of it or whatever, even though most of them were probably watching. I thought, “Wow. This guy gets it.” We were over at each other’s house every weekend, doing our own wrestling matches. It got to the point we were putting on wrestling matches in the hallway at lunch, where you would think the school, the teachers, would say, “Okay, enough of that. No more.” They ended up watching us.
There would be like 100 kids making circles, because we’d have masks, I’d put together storylines like I’d … We’d create this improv theater in the hallway, and people loved it. And we’re like, “Wow, we’re popular now.” And so he and I just had this incredible bond. We both enjoyed the same thing, we both suffered through the same thing in terms of socially maybe being a little awkward otherwise, with the girls or whatnot, so he became another member of my family.
And when I was 16, my best friend and I, Michael John Janzen, went to the high school charity show after practice. The promoter Al Tomko was doing the ring announcing. He asked if any one of us had handled a microphone before, and Mike starts laughing, saying, “Well, Mauro’s the biggest mouth of the school. He’s an announcer, he loves this stuff.” I end up announcing the rest of the show. At the end of the show, the promoter comes out of the back, smiling, and he goes, “Whats your name, kid?” And I said, “Mauro Ranallo.” He’s like, “I think I have some work for you. Are you able to come to the BCTV television studios the following Tuesday?” “Yes, for sure.” “Okay, great. See you then.”
I didn’t quite understand what had just happened, but I had gone from being the shy quirky class town with dreams of being on television one day, and working for All-Star Wrestling, to all of a sudden having the promoter of All-Star Wrestling, Al Tomko, invite me to BCTV television studios the following week. My friend Michael Janzen lost his mind, screaming, running down the hallway, “Mauro’s going to be on TV, Mauro’s going to be on TV.” I was just enthralled with what was happening, and I’m … I mean, I get goosebumps now. I was over the moon, and I thought, “This is it. I’m going to become a superstar. My lifelong dream is going to become a reality.”
On July 7th, 1989, his sister Debbie phoned me. So it was about 6:00 in the morning, I answered the phone half awake, and I thought that his sister Debbie was laughing, but she was just devastated, crying hysterically, saying that something had happened, that Michael was gone. I hang up the phone, not really being able to absorb what I just heard. I didn’t believe it, I guess. I didn’t understand, I thought she was making a joke, or … I was totally disconnected.
Wasn’t until I saw my mom that I completely lost it, and realized that my best friend had died at the age of 19 due to a heart attack. That set off a spiral downward that resulted in me being hospitalized by my girlfriend at the time. There was a hurricane in my mind. I felt like I was in prison, I was scared. I thought I was going to die, and I was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder.
They say that mental health issues are triggered by traumatic events. And it doesn’t get more traumatic than losing your best friend at the age of 19. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. I got really angry at the doctors and everyone else who had the audacity, the temerity, to tell me that there was something wrong with me. I’m living the dream, I’m doing more work than anybody, I’m making more money than anyone I know. I’m helping people, I’m a good person. What do you mean there’s something wrong with me in my brain?
And my twenties were a complete and utter disaster. But I was hospitalized multiple times, the longest being three months. And the toll that it took on my family, my employment, my personal relationships … It is truly, I believe, a miracle that I survived my twenties and my refusal to acknowledge that I was mentally ill. So I did what was necessary, I surrendered myself to treatment.
When I finally admitted that yes, my name is Mauro Ranallo, I suffer from bipolar affective disorder, I need help. Then, and only then, did I finally get to see sustained success in all realms of my life. It almost is because of my dad, and the relationship and the struggles that we had, that proved to be the fuel that I needed.
I continue to fight, and proving to my dad that A, your son … A, is not only going to be okay, but B, I went on and became the first broadcaster in network television history to call MMA, boxing, pro wrestling and kickboxing on network TV. I’ve called the two biggest combat sports pay-per-views in history. That is why I want to share all of my story with people, it’s because you must never truly give up.
And that’s why pressure, the cliché says, will either burst pipes or create diamonds. Well, I’ve burst a lot of pipes, and I’m still that proverbial diamond in the rough, I think. We’re all in a fight. Every day is a fight. It’s not always a negative thing, a fight. A fight, sometimes you’re fighting for your voice to be heard. You’re fighting for civil rights.
All of us have a gift. Every single human being has a gift and a purpose in life. And for the large majority, fear is precluding them from pursuing their true path. People need people to tell them, “You know what? It’s going to be tough, but you can do it.” People need to stop hearing, “No, you’re not good enough. No, you’re not pretty enough. No, you’re not smart enough.” “[inaudible 00:07:55] you.”
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