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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News

November 12, 2003 Edition - ANNUAL BIRTHDAY ISSUE
(C) 2003 Portland Ice Skating Society

We start off by wishing Tonya many happy returns, as she's 33 


As usual, it's been a hectic few months for Tonya since our last 

Early November saw Tonya in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she 
participated in "Motor Madness", a two day dirt-track racing and 
monster-truck event held on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 at the 
Charlotte Coliseum. Tonya competed both nights in a 10 lap dirt-
track oval race for charity against local celebrities. Tonya came 
second in one of the races, and Linda Lewis says that Tonya said 
it was a lot of fun. 

Tonya was also interviewed by a local newspaper, the "Charlotte 
Observer" which on November 5 published a positive article about 
her (a rarity in Tonya news coverage). Unfortunately the article, 
entitled "Harding finds her niche in the world" by Tom Sorenson 
has now disappeared into the pay section of their site, but a 
summary of the key facts are below. There was even a brief 
mention of the Special Duties Section at one point, with a 
comment that "she even has a fan club in New Zealand"!

Tonya's attire: a yellow Ford shirt, black pants and boots. 

Favorite quote: "I'm a lady," she says. "I'm only tough when I'm 
in the ring." 

Revealed: Tonya spends her money on bows and arrows, drinks her 
coffee with cream and Sweet N Low. And her latest truck is a Ford 
Ranchero painted bright red with purple flames. "It's definitely 
not a grocery getter," she says. "It's a souped-up hot rod with 
483 horsepower and it can still fry 'em doing 70." It's good to 
see that Tonya is keeping up her taste in transport.

On her fans: "They like me because I'm like them," says Harding. 
"I'm not a failure. I'm going to stand up and fight and make my 
life what I want it. And to all those people that stated I'd 
never amount to anything, that I'm just a piece of dirt, you know 

On the infamous "Hubcap incident": "And he pushed me to the 
ground and sits on me," says Harding. "And says, `Hit me, hit me, 
nyah, nyah, nyah.' So I did."

On some of the offers of work she's had: "I'm not gonna do 
anything cheesy,". Tonya describes skating topless in Vegas and 
mud wrestling in Japan as the cheesiest offers she's received.

On the tougher parts of her life: "Everybody should hit rock-
bottom once," she says. "It makes you realize how important 
things are. I thank God for every single day because I know I 
might not get one again."

On the difference between skating and boxing: "In boxing, I can 
go out there and have the dirtiest, rottenest music,". "I can 
wear whatever I want and do and say whatever I want and go out 
and show 'em what I got. I mean, there's no questions asked if 
the other girl is on the ground."

Does Tonya's comment about music mean we may finally get to hear 
some Sex Pistols at a Tonya event?


The "Observer" article isn't the only Tonya media mention in 
recent weeks: Another article about Tonya's new career has been 
written by Christine Brennan, and - shock! horror! - it's 
actually fairly sympathetic! Was that a pig that just flew past 
the window? It can be found at:

Meanwhile, Sue "TL" Fox of WBAN recently interviewed Tonya and 
shot some photos & video of her. Unfortunately it looks as if the 
photos are in the subscriber's area, but that in itself is 
interesting as it indicates Ms. Fox actually thinks people are 
willing to pay to see footage of Tonya working out, which 
suggests she must be taking Tonya's boxing efforts more seriously 
than she has in the past. Previously she has been rather derisive 
of Tonya's boxing attempts, seeing it as almost an embarassment 
for women's boxing, so this is quite a turnaround. The interview 
can be found at:

and includes some video footage (in RealPlayer and Windows Media 
Formats) of Tonya working out with her trainer, Paul Brown. We 
recommend that you right-click and save the files to your local 
drive unless you've got a broadband connection rather than trying 
to view them on-line.

The interview reveals that at the time (October 15) Tonya had 
been working with Brown (who is described as a "noted trainer") 
for around 12 weeks, and feels that she is now going in the right 
direction. Tonya was ill at the time with a nasal infection that 
would subsequently cause her next fight to be canceled.

Tonya describes how her involvement in boxing came about via the 
Fox Celebrity boxing special, which she says came through Michael 
Rosenberg. "At first I thought no, but then I realized it would 
put me back in the public eye. It could possibly lead to other 
offers", says Tonya. But it was not her first interest in the 
sport: "Yes, I've always liked boxing, since I was little, and 
with it being such an athletic sport, I wondered if I had what it 
would take to be a boxer."

Tonya says her hardest job has been trying to convince people it 
wasn't a publicity stunt: "being a celebrity, people don't take 
me seriously, but you win some, you lose some. As long as you 
know you did your best, who cares what everybody else thinks. As 
long as I'm happy, and my trainer Paul Brown is happy, that's all 
that matters." She also says that boxing is much harder than 
skating. In terms of training, "the difference between boxing and 
skating is, skating was basically all on ice training, where as 
in boxing there's running, ring work, bag work, tires, jump rope, 
and I could go on all day with the things I train at everyday."

Finally, Tonya gives a message to her fans of: "To everyone who 
has supported me in my boxing, THANK YOU. I will continue to do 
my best to become a good boxer. Pray for me to continue to learn 
to move my head quicker, so I don't get hit as much, and to jab, 
jab, jab!"


We regret to report that Tonya has lost her match in Dallas back 
in August. This makes Tonya's record 3-2.

In the end, Tonya's opponent turned out to be neither Kendra 
Davis nor Hollie Dunaway but instead Melissa Yamas from San 
Antonio, Texas. David House, who was at the match, reports that 
it started well with a few jabs but then Melissa tore into Tonya 
and won via TKO (Technical Knock Out) at 1 minute and 13 seconds. 
He says:

   "Afterwards, the ring doctor checked on Tonya and they took 
    her gloves off. As she was getting out of the ring, I heard 
    her tell her trainer? (the black guy), 'hold me' or was it 
    'hold my hands'? She was clearly shaken and could not walk 
    straight. As she went to the back, the white guy in the Team 
    Tonya shirt held on to her and wrapped his arms around her to 
    steady her."

David has also posted some photos he took at the event. Here's 
some photos of the weigh-in ceremony:

and some of the boxing match itself:

The loss also resulted in a 60-day medical suspension for Tonya. 
A collection of articles about the suspension and the Dallas 
fight can be found on the forum at:

The outcome of the fight was obviously disappointing for 
Tonyaphiles and was also controversial, with Paul Brown filing an 
official complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and 
Regulations over the outcome. He believes that Yamas was 
overweight by 2 pounds (about 1 kilo), and is also concerned 
about some discrepancies that seem to exist regarding her 
personal details - like the fact she is listed in various sources 
as having two different Federal boxer ID numbers, two different 
birthdays (27 November 1969 and 29 November 1967) and that her 
surname seems to be spelled at least three different ways (we've 
come across Yamas, Yanas and Ayanis - so far). In fact, she seems 
to be a bit of a mystery woman, but she did reveal at the press 
conference that she's had five years of training, suggesting that 
putting her against Tonya was an ambush at best and that the 
result of the fight was not indicative of Tonya's real boxing 

Brown also says he intends to set up a rematch with Yanas/Yamas/
Ayanis or whatever her name is in Portland next February. "Tonya 
will beat her anytime," he says. "And I want her to do it in 


Tonya's next scheduled face-off with Hollie "Hot Stuff" Dunaway 
was also scuppered, this time by bronchitis and a sinus infection 
that caused Tonya to pull out for medical reasons. Tonya was to 
have fought on the undercard of a nationally and internationally 
televised event dubbed the "Everlast Heavyweight Explosion" on 
Saturday, Oct. 25, at Sam's Town Hotel & Casino in Robinsonville, 
Miss. Her opponent was to have been Dunaway (whom she was 
originally scheduled to fight in Dallas back in August) of Fort 
Smith, Arkansas in a four round bout. A photo of Dunaway can be 
found at:

Linda Lewis says that Tonya has been working out daily with her 
trainer and manager Paul Brown and that apart from this she is in 
the best physical shape she has been in for a long time.

"We are on a seven- or eight-fight mission," Brown promises. "We 
want to see what she can do."


Readers may remember that several months ago, Tonya filmed a bit 
part in a boxing-oriented movie called "The Prize Fighter". We 
are pleased to report that a trailer for the film, including a 
brief clip of Tonya, is available for download from the movie's 
official web site at:

The plot, which is influenced by a true story, concerns a boxer 
who decides to make a comeback in order to honor the memory of 
his wife who has died suddenly. Naturally there are certain 
sleazy characters who want to see him fail. Tonya's role is of 
the owner of a bar where the fights take place, a part that was 
specially written for her.


A guy who posted on the David House forum has done a great 
cartoon of Tonya that we think she'd like:

It's good to see a cartoon of Tonya that captures the real Tonya 
and doesn't just portray her as boozy chain-smoking trailer-trash 
like so many others. You can see some of his other caricatures, 
mostly wrestling-related, here:


Eventyrplassen Vannførelag, a Norwegian community group who voted 
Tonya as their patron several years ago now has a new web site 
and their own domain name. They can be found at:

The site includes a Tonya page and also a letter, in English, 
that they wrote to Tonya back in 1998.


In the film "The Matrix", a computer hacker by the name of "Neo" 
stumbles across what might be best described as the ultimate in 
conspiracy theories - that his entire world is in fact completely 
fake, and what he thinks is his life is actually a simulation 
produced by a hyper-realistic virtual-reality computer system 
known as "The Matrix".

Skating fans who have been following the ISU's Grand Prix series 
recently might be forgiven for thinking that they had themselves 
blundered into a Matrix movie. For the Grand Prix marked the 
debut of the ISU's new "cheat proof" scoring system which puts 
the computer in charge. And like the computer in the Matrix 
films, nobody knows what goes on inside it either. That's 
because, unlike in the past where the computer merely did the 
arithmetic of computing the scores, now it also does the random 
selection of the judges whose scores will actually be used. And 
that's a problem because given the fact that something that's 
random is by its very nature unable to be repeated on cue, 
there's no way to double check scores by hand, or to calculate 
them manually if the computer crashes. Chuck in the fact that the 
computer software used is "closed source" - i.e. the "guts" of it 
is hidden - and for all skating fans know the judges might as 
well be rolling dice.

Such is what happened at Skate Canada. There was a delay in the 
scores being announced for the Compulsory Dance. Initially a 
cable fault was blamed by the ISU, but the USFSA's web site tells 
a different story, blaming "a software glitch", which had 
incorrectly calculated the technical element points. As a result, 
the scores of the first six couples were increased by some six 
points midway through the event. The USFSA claims that "the 
problem did not affect the placings", though skating fans who 
were present say this is not true.

The "Matrix" series was a big hit with computer nerds. Sad to 
say, the ISU's new system hasn't been a hit at all with skating 
fans or computer nerds. One person who is both is Sandra 
Loosemore, and for the mathematically minded she's written an in-
depth article about why the new system stinks, and doesn't even 
do what the ISU claims it does:

Even before the judging scandals of 2002 the scoring of skating 
competitions has always been difficult for the average viewer to 
understand, leading to the belief that "it's all down to personal 
taste anyway". Using closed source software that relies on secret 
formulae to calculate scores will not solve these problems, 
merely make the understanding of skating scoring even more 
incomprehensible for the casual fan than the existing system is. 
This is likely to further undermine people's confidence in the 
judging and therefore their interest in skating rather than 
enhance it.

The "Matrix" series asks viewers the question: what is real and 
what is not? And if something is so close to reality that you 
can't tell it's fake, does "reality" have a meaning anymore? We'd 
suggest that the ISU is also trying to present its members with a 
false reality: that fancy computerized scoring systems will clean 
up skating. The true reality is that it's cheating judges that 
are the problem, not the scoring system or the software that is 
used. Until the ISU gets tough on cheating judges its promise 
that it really cares about figure skating must be regarded as 
something as phony as the Matrix itself.


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