Tonya Harding

Figure Skater

Born: 12 November 1970
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon (?)
Best known as: Champion skater who had her opponent's knee whacked

Name at birth: Tonya Maxine Harding

Harding is the notorious figure skater who arranged an attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan during the 1994 US Championships. Harding began skating as a toddler, and as an amateur skater won her first national title in 1991. Considered rough-edged but athletic, she became the first American woman to perform a triple axel jump in competition. During practices for the 1994 US Championships, Kerrigan was clubbed in the leg and injured by a mysterious assailant. Harding went on to win, but thanks to what was dubbed "The Whack Heard 'Round The World" she soon found herself in the middle of a criminal investigation. Harding was allowed to compete in the 1994 Olympics (she finished eighth; Kerrigan finished second to Oksana Baiul) but later admitted that she was involved with ex-husband Jeff Gillooly in a scheme to disable Kerrigan. Harding was stripped of her national championship and banned from amateur skating; Gillooly got two years in prison. The scandal hit its lurid peak when a personal video of their wedding night was sold through Penthouse magazine.

Harding has since continued to make headlines, usually over small-time domestic squabbles and car wrecks. In 2002 she took on Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones in a made-for-TV boxing match on Fox TV; in August of 2002 she was sentenced to ten days in jail for an alcohol-related probation violation. Harding tried her hand at professional boxing in 2003, and the next year signed to make a one-game appearance with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League.

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