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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
March 20, 2004 Edition
(C) 2004 Portland Ice Skating Society
SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALL RIGHT FOR FIGHTING
Today, March 20 will see Tonya resume her boxing career with
her sixth match, to be held at the Oakland Arena against Tracy
Carlton of Compton, CA. Carlton is a late replacement for Blanca
Hilder, a local stock trader and former kickboxer who was to be
Tonya's original opponent. At this stage the reason for the
replacement or any details about Carlton are not known, other
than that this is her first pro fight. The latest article about
the match, by the Alameda Star-Times can be found here:
This is Tonya's first fight since Dallas back in August. A match
scheduled to be held in Boise, Idaho in January had to be
canceled after a lawsuit was filed by Tonya's former management,
Prize Fight Boxing, against the fight's organizers and the Bank
of America Center where the fight was going to be held. We are
pleased to report that this lawsuit has now been dismissed. This
would appear to pave the way for Tonya to resume her boxing
career without further interruption.
TONYA RAISES MONEY FOR CHARITY WITH BOXING MATCH AT HOCKEY EVENT
Actually, Friday night wasn't bad for fighting either, as fans of
the Indianapolis Ice hockey team discovered when they turned up
to watch their team play against the Colorado Eagles in
Indianapolis last week.
The night was billed by the Ice as being a "guaranteed fight
night", and so it turned out, though not in the way most people
expected. After initial speculation by the media that Tonya was
actually going to play hockey, caused no doubt by a somewhat
misleading press release put out by the Ice, Tonya elected to
give an exhibition boxing event consisting of a light-hearted
sparring match with her trainer, Paul Brown. Brown wore oversized
gloves and at one point pretended to be knocked out. The match
helped to pull in a full house and raised $1000 for Big Brothers
Big Sisters of Central Indiana, a local charity.
Earlier in the day there was some question as to whether Tonya
was going to fight at all: in an internet chat and a TV
interview, Tonya had stated that she would not do anything that
would risk injuring herself before her upcoming match in Oakland.
In fact it seems that there was never any plan for Tonya to play
hockey at all. According to The Oregonian, Tonya's manager Paul
Brown is quoted as saying on the previous Tuesday that "we
agreed that she will appear back there in Indianapolis, be
honorary captain and do charity work". He describes reports
that Tonya will play hockey as "absolutely insane...
hysterical". One has to wonder if the confusion wasn't generated
deliberately as a publicity stunt. If so, it's worked
spectacularly well, given the amount of press coverage it has
In addition to her boxing, Tonya also did a live Internet chat
for theindychannel.com and appeared in a TV interview. More
details, including a video of a local news report about Tonya's
visit, can be found at these sites:
TONYA RETURNS TO THE ICE IN CENTRAL PARK
Although Tonya did not play hockey, Tonyaphiles did get to see
her skate again recently. To commemorate the 10th annniversary of
her performance in Lillehammer, Tonya featured on two consecutive
episodes of "The Early Show" on CBS in February.
On the 23rd, Tonya appeared in an interview with host Harry
Smith, and the following day skated a short 3.5 minute routine in
New York's Central Park. Tonya did this with only six days
practice after a break from skating of over year. The first
appearance also featured an interview with Nancy Kerrigan, who
actually said something nice about Tonya ("she had so much talent
and some of the biggest jumps in skating").
Unfortunately, Tonya's performance was marred by a hand injury
sustained while washing dishes one evening before the show, a cut
that required nine stitches. "That set me back," she says. "I
didn't want to fall on the hand while skating and risk further
injury. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare, but I thought I
did pretty well. It could have been better, but it was a lot of
fun. And it was good for me."
For those of you who missed out on seeing Tonya's appearances,
you can check out the following two articles on the CBS site. The
latter has a clip from the show in both RealMedia and Windows
Media format that includes Tonya's Central Park performance.
There's also a photo essay recapping the last ten years that
includes several images not widely seen before:
There were also reports that Tonya was supposed to appear on
ESPN's "Cold Pizza" on Wednesday the 25th, but there seems to be
some question as to whether this actually went ahead - one person
who watched the show reports not seeing anything. Tonya has also
done a segment for Comedy Central's "The Man Show" that is
scheduled to air some time in May, so if you can receive this
channel keep an eye on your local TV listings. The segment
involves her doing a little sparring with co-host Doug Stanhope.
TONYA TO FIGHT IN CANADA IN JUNE
The "Edmonton Journal" has reported that Tonya has signed a deal
with local promoter Wayne Barry to fight on a card slated for the
Shaw Conference Centre in late June (assuming there are no
immigration problems). This will be her first fight outside the
The "Edmonton Sun" has two articles with more info about the
fight. It appears that the fight was originally to take place in
March, but Tonya's previous encounters with the law mean that
getting admission to Canada is not a foregone conclusion, so the
fight was rescheduled to June 25 in order to give time for all
the paperwork to be completed:
The fight will be billed as "Law & Order", though Tonya says "I'm
on the 'Order' side now". Asked inevitably about whether she's
serious, she says:
"I wouldn't have got my head beat in five times if I was taking
it as a joke. If people think I'm a circus act, I would tell them
to get in the ring and see what it's like,".
On the accusation that she's exploiting her notorious image: "A
whole bunch of people made a lot of money off me being the bad
girl. I still use that as my nickname in the ring, but eventually
I want my own name. Right now, it's time for me to make some
money off the whole bad girl situation".
TONYA TO PERFORM DURING 2005 SKATING NATIONALS
Also worth checking out is this article from Kerry Eggers of the
Portland Tribune that reveals Tonya hasn't totally given up on
skating. It's about Tonya's renewed attempts at getting the
USFSA's ridiculous life ban overturned so that she can skate
again in events with USFSA skaters:
Paul Brown has announced he has authorized lawyers to draw up
papers that he says will be filed with the USFSA soon. "It is not
intended to reinstate my amateur eligibility," explains Tonya. "I
would first and foremost like the opportunity to skate
professionally, whether in an exhibition or a competition".
"It's good for both sides", says Brown. "For Tonya as an
individual and them for an organization. It would be good for the
sport. She has paid her debts to society and should be given the
opportunity to compete again."
Although Tonya has skated in one pro competition, the ESPN
championships in October 1999, she has persistently been denied
the opportunity to skate in other shows due to skater's and
promoter's fears of being blackballed by the USFSA, a giant
octopus that has considerable influence on professional
competitions even though it has no official jurisdiction over
this area. "Other skaters don't feel they can skate with me,"
says Tonya. "Ninety-nine percent of the professional shows run
through the USFSA, so they control pretty much everything.
Skaters don't want to rock the boat, don't want to take a risk
because of who I am. Even though if they took the risk, they
would make a lot of money."
Tonya says her appetite for skating was whettted again last month
while preparing for the CBS shows and a Swedish TV special. Brown
has also been encouraging Tonya to skate as a way of training.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: Tonya will definitely
be performing during the US Nationals that will be held in
Portland in January next year: "We are booked for a bout in the
convention center, depending on the outcome of the appeal with
the USFSA," Brown says. "I hope she will be able to skate. If
not, we are going to be across the street fighting in a
nationally televised bout."
PACIFICA TRIBUNE EARNS A "JAYSON" FOR JUNK JOURNALISM
If you've been following Tonya news coverage over the years
you'll know that some of it is pretty shoddy, plagued with
journalists who can't be bothered to check their facts so they
just make stuff up or rely on their (usually bad) memories. For
instance, you might recall Kate Maddox of the Las Vegas Sun who
back in 2001 heard a rumor that Tonya had been offered a job
skating topless in a Las Vegas show and wrote a story implying it
was a done deal, then tried to make out Tonya had changed her
mind when in fact she had rejected the offer immediately, even
before Maddox's original article appeared. Then there was the
story that was circulating just before Christmas 2002 that Tonya
had got drunk on an airline flight and caused some trouble, when
in fact it was the woman sitting in the seat in front of Tonya
who was the real culprit.
Given that we've currently just been through the major awards
season, we've decided to create what we call the "Jayson" award,
named of course, in (dis)honor of disgraced New York Times writer
Jayson Blair, which we'll dish out whenever we find examples of
such poor workmanship. And just recently there's been plenty of
candidates to choose from.
Take, for instance, Chris Hunter of the "Pacifica Tribune",
Blanca Hilder's hometown newspaper. In their issue of Wednesday,
March 17, 2004 he wrote:
Remember Tonya Harding? The notorious figure skater gained
international fame not for her graceful moves, but for her
graceless attack on fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan.
The January 6, 1994, attack on Kerrigan in the Winter Olympic
Trials gave both women a lot more fame than either probably
ever desired. Harding's henchmen, led by Jeff Gillooly,
admitted that Tonya knew about the plan to hobble Kerrigan.
As it turned out, both women wound up skating in the 1994
Olympics, with Kerrigan earning a Silver Medal and Harding
finishing in eighth place. Later that year, Harding admitted
guilt in the attack and avoided prison. She was subsequently
stripped of her winning titles and banned from professional ice
skating for life.
Any good Tonyaphile should be able to spot the errors there. But
Hunter has strong competition from Brad Locke of bpsports.net,
who has Tonya playing in an ice hockey game that she never did!
In an article entitled "Welcome To The Freak Show" written March
17, a full FIVE DAYS after Tonya's Indy appearance he wrote:
Tonya Harding made her professional hockey debut March 12 with
a minor league team.
Hello, McFly, is there anybody home? This guy is so far behind
the times it's funny. The rest of the article is the usual
pompous twaddle about how sports are turning into a circus. And
needless to say the fact that the boxing match that Tonya DID do
raised $1000 for charity is never mentioned (if he had it would
have seriously undermined his case). Perhaps Mr. Locke should
spend more time reading and keeping up to date than writing pious
Then you've got Dave Newhouse in the Alameda Times who, in an
otherwise positive article, says "Harding admitted later she knew
about the plot beforehand".
It's a tough call, but we think the "Jayson" has to go to Chris
Hunter of the Pacifica Tribune, for the sheer number of errors
and generally anti-Tonya sentiment. If there's anyone that's
"graceless", it's him. At least we can be thankful of one thing:
unlike with alot of other awards it's highly unlikely we'll have
to put up with a boring, long-winded acceptance speech.
PLAYING WITH A STACKED DECK
Most of us are familiar with the deck of playing cards issued to
American soldiers in Iraq featuring senior members of Saddam's
deposed regime. Now at least two outfits have produced their own
variation of the idea: cards featuring mug shots of various
celebrities who have had run-ins with the law. And Tonya is there
amongst the pack.
The first is Starz Behind Barz (http://www.starzbehindbarz.com),
located appropriately enough, in Las Vegas. Amongst the other
famous faces featured are Eminem (gun charges), Bill Gates (for a
speeding ticket), Sid Vicious (murder), and Michael Jackson (you
know what). Jackson is the joker, not surprisingly. The second is
from well-known celebrity crime website The Smoking Gun
(http://www.smokinggun.com), and feature much the same group
of people. The Tonya cards from both decks can be viewed on the
"photos" page on our site at:
And what card is Tonya? Well, the the Starz card has her as the
Queen of Diamonds. The Smoking Gun set has her as, if you haven't
already guessed, the Queen of Clubs. Either way, Tonya's an ace
as far as Tonyaphiles are concerned.
COMPULSORY FIGURES: WSF FILES ANTI-TRUST SUIT AGAINST SPEEDY AND
December saw an important development in the war for control of
figure skating with the fledgling World Skating Federation filing
a lawsuit against Speedy's powerful ISU. Their complaint, which
can be downloaded in pdf form from the WSF site at
www.worldskating.org, alleges that the ISU has engaged in anti-
competitive conduct designed to maintain their monopoly over
eligible skating by blacklisting WSF supporters. Perhaps even
more importantly, it also makes damaging accusations against
Speedy himself, claiming he has been taking kickbacks from TV
networks disguised as part of their ISU TV rights payments.
The past year has been a difficult period for the WSF. The
organization has yet to produce its first skating event, chiefly
because of threats and bullying from the ISU. The WSF has also
suffered from internal management wranglings. This month saw
Sonia Bianchetti step down as acting Vice President after she
claims she was named as a Director of the organization in
incoporation documents without permission.
We feel that this lawsuit is long overdue. The ISU has long been
acting as a bunch of bully-boys to anybody who tries to buck the
system in a way that no other business would be allowed to get
away with. These days sport is a business, and the ISU needs to
be held to the same standards that other businesses are held to.
Whether the suit will succeed, of course, and if so whether it
will result in any meaningful evisceration of the ISU remains to
be seen - given what happened to Microsoft we don't have much
faith in U.S. anti-trust law. But the accusations about Speedy
are particularly interesting: while as he is widely despised
throughout figure skating for his arrogancce and incompetence,
this is the first time anyone has accused him of actually doing
something illegal, even though many have long suspected he is
dirty. If the WSF has evidence of this, then it could certainly
be as damaging to the ISU's public image as the Salt Lake City
fiasco and will totally destroy what little credibility their
claims of being serious about cleaning up skating may have left.
The best advice is, watch this space. When this goes to court,
things could get pretty interesting in Speedy-land.
VISIT THESE GREAT TONYA WEB SITES:
PortIce - http://www.geocities.com/portice
David House - http://www.tonyaharding.org
Charlie Main - http://www.charliesweb.com/tonya/tonya.html
Puppetboy - http://www.puppetland.com/tonya/
Valerie Smith - http://www.olywa.net/radu/valerie/LilHam.html
Swan Lake - http://members.tripod.com/~TonyaHarding/index.html
Blades of Gold - http://members.tripod.com/tmhfan/index.html
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