Ranallo: This Documentary Can Save Lives

Mauro Ranallo's upcoming doc, "Bipolar Rock ’N Roller," explores his battle will mental illness

Ferrall On The Bench
May 22, 2018 - 8:59 am

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Showtime Boxing play-by-play announcer Mauro Ranallo dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his upcoming documentary, Bipolar Rock ’N Roller, which explores his battle will mental illness. The documentary debuts Friday on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.

Ranallo’s friend, Haris Usanovic, directed the film.

“He rapidly recognized that there was something going on here with the fact that I delivered my work in such a high energy and high level and was always up,” Ranallo said on Ferrall on the Bench. “In my old world, I had a lot of baggage that I was carrying, and he felt there was something to be shared in terms of trying to help erase stigma. Because I trusted him so much and because he's been my friend for so long, it wasn’t that hard to let him film me at my worst.”

Ranallo’s best friend died when he was 19, which triggered his first mental breakdown. Now 48, he hopes that this documentary helps eliminates the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

“We can talk about it – and we have for many, many years,” Ranallo said. “People can mention their feelings, but something like this, the visual – because it’s an invisible illness to so many. I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m not on crunches. I’m not taking insulin for diabetes or undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. It had to be visceral. It had to be shocking. It had to be uncomfortable to watch. I’m not courageous or great. I’m wanting to try to save lives because I know more than a few men who committed suicide at a very young age because of the stigma associated with mental health.”

The documentary, Ranallo said, will make viewers uncomfortable.

“Yes, it’s hard to watch,” he said. “But that is the only way we’re going to open up eyes and minds and raise the conversation. When I watched the final cut, it made me cringe. And yet, I’m like, you know what? It has to be. If this were to cost me work or a prospective employer would have said, ‘This guy’s unstable,’ that’s fine. I don’t care. . . . For me, it was about just sharing the most uncomfortable stuff. Already just in the trailer that’s been shard with the public, the amount of feedback I’ve received from men – it was those moments that made them go, ‘If this guy is working at a high level and has to deal with this every day, then what am I doing? Why can’t I talk about this?’ 

“Everyone who I’ve heard back from has told me that even just the trailer has inspired them to reach out to family to try to get help,” Ranallo continued. “Just talking about it can literally help save a life. People are made to feel ashamed, especially men, especially in our world. Whether it’s fighting or athletics or sports talk, hey, this is high energy, testosterone, we’re alpha males, we’re badasses. This is literally killing us.”

When Ranallo was diagnosed with mental illness, he responded in unhealthy ways. Trying to self-medicate, he once got drunk 42 nights in a row.

“I fought my illness like so may people do when I was first diagnosed,” he said. “I was not looking after myself the way I should have been.”

Ranallo said he felt like “a burden” to friends and family for many years but that marijuana – not big pharma – has helped many of his symptoms. 

“We can joke, but there was truly something medicinal,” he said. “There’s stigma associated with cannabis. There’s stigma associated with mental illness. There’s stigma associated with pro wrestling. I’m the stigma smasher, Mr. Ferrall."

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