Harding - Ice skater turned professional boxer, was born in Portland,
Oregon. Harding made her mark in Sports when she become one of
the most noted ice skaters in the sport and now wants to lay claim to
Tonya began skating at the age of 3. On a trip to Portland’s Lloyd Center,
Tonya watched other kids skating and wanted to try it. When she first
stepped on the ice she made piles of shavings and ate them. At age 5, she
was a natural for the sport.
Soon after she began skating, Tonya got the attention of Diane Rawlinson,
who had been the former star of Ice Capades. Diane went on to become Tonya's
coach, and remained so, for several years. Tonya won her first competition
at the age of 5. By the age of 8, Tonya did her first triple jump, quite an
amazing feat for an 8 year old. By 12, Tonya began experimenting with what
would one day be her trademark: the Triple Axle. By this age she had already
won several medals, in numerous competitions.
At 15, Tonya was known for her natural athletic ability and for being the
highest jumper and fastest spinner among female skaters. People were in awe
of this talented young woman. In 1988 Tonya became the first American woman
to win a Russian award as a figure skater.
The high point in Tonya's career came in 1991 at the Target Center in
Minneapolis at Senior Nationals, where Tonya won her first National title.
Skating two perfect programs, Tonya received a 6.0 for technical merit, the
first perfect score any woman had received in this competition in nearly 2
decades. Tonya also became the first US woman, and the only other woman in
the world, to complete the Triple Axle. This record for an American woman
still stands to this day. She then went on to Worlds, where she performed
this difficult jump once again. She earned the Silver medal for this
competition. Soon after, she performed it once again at Skate America,
breaking 2 world records and winning the championship.
In 1991 Tonya began touring with Tom Collins Champions On Ice. Around this
time Tonya was known as the first and ONLY woman to land a Triple Axle in
both the short and long programs. No other American female skater has
achieved this accomplishment. In 1992, she competed in her first Olympics,
placing 4th. Prior to that Olympics, she performed a quad loop jump in a
Texaco commercial. In 1994, she once again took first place at Nationals,
and went on to compete at her second Olympics. Her skating performance at
this Olympics received some of the highest ratings of all times for a
Since 1994 Tonya has gone on to do a movie called 'Breakaway', recorded a CD
of an original song, which she dedicated to the victims of the Oklahoma
bombing tragedy, done numerous interviews, and appearances. She did a
skating performance at a hockey game in Reno in 1997, where she received
standing ovations from the first sell out crowd ever at one of their games.
After the game, there was a crowd of fans two lines deep that waited for her
autograph. She graciously signed every one of them. She was signing
autographs and greeting fans for over two hours.
A few years ago, Tonya made a huge comeback in the skating world. She was
invited to compete in her first competition in five years, at the ESPN
professional competition in Huntington West Virginia, where she placed 2nd.
The crowd welcomed her with open arms and love, and standing ovations. The
TV show Entertainment tonight had one of the largest viewing audiences the
week they did the interview with Tonya. E! Cable network show did a special
on Tonya's life, and it is still one of the most watched personality
profiles they have done. They have shown it several times, because of all
the response they received. She also did some acting on one of the HBO
comedy hits, Arli$$. She has been the guest on the Rosanne show, The Maury
Show, and has done three guest interviews on the Larry King Live show, on
CNN. She also appeared on the TV game show, “The Weakest Link”. She did this
for charity, donating her winnings to NOVA.
TNN cable network had Tonya host a whole week of programs, called Bad Boy's
Week. She introduced shows such as the Waltons, Cagney and Lacey, Dallas,
Dukes of Hazards, to name just a few. She also was the guest of the
Jacksonville Sun’s ball club, in Florida. It was a very successful evening
for that club too.
She has also appeared on 'The Best Damn Sports Show Period' with Tom Arnold.
In 2001, the French Skating Association and French Television invited her to
skate in a Christmas show in France. She did a wonderful job, and was
thrilled to be skating again. Tonya can hold her own when it comes to
interviews. She won over a young listening audience when she was the guest
on the highly rated T-Man morning show on KUBEFM in Seattle WA. She also
made a successful commercial for a very popular car dealership in Portland,
showing her acting and comedy skills.
Last year, a civic group invited Tonya to San Francisico. They hope that she
will be able to help raise money for some of their charity groups sometime
in the future. While there, she was very honored to have been asked to meet
the Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown. She had a wonderful visit with
him, which included a photo session of them together. The Mayor was very
gracious to her, and invited her to come to his city, to do the charity
In February of 2003, Tonya made her pro debut as a boxer, and was
quickly labeled "America's Bad Girl." Harding is currently 3-2-0 as a
Tonya continues to improve in boxing, and claims that boxing is much harder
than skating! She is taking the sport seriously, and hopes that
someday she may be able to fight for a world championship. Tonya has
thus far had little problems filling the event out as most ticket sales are
very high when she is on the card.
Tonya told WBAN that she first became interested in boxing after she
appeared on "Celebrity Boxing" and stopped her opponent.