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

September 30, 2004 Edition - SPECIAL DOUBLE ISSUE
(C) 2004 Portland Ice Skating Society

It's been a long time since our last issue, and in that time 
there's been alot happening to Tonya, particularly in her boxing 
career, which has been on a "Rocky" road in all the wrong senses 
of the word. So this issue we've decided to make a special bumper 
length edition to catch up with all the news.


On Friday the 25th of June, Tonya made her international boxing 
debut in a four-round match against 22-year-old Edmonton, 
Alberta nursing student Amy Johnson. Tonya's fight was the last 
on the undercard before the WBC Continental Americas super 
bantamweight title fight June 25 at the Shaw Conference Centre in 

Sadly, the result did not go the way Tonyaphiles would have 
hoped, with the fight being stopped 1:03 into the third round and 
Johnson being awarded a technical knockout against Tonya.

"You name it, she threw it," a weary Tonya said. "She threw a lot 
more than I anticipated and, you know, it was her night." "She 
got the one opportunity to fight Tonya Harding and, of course, 
that gives you that extra energy and everything else. Let her 
have that 15 minutes of fame." 

"It's been almost a complete year since I fought and I went out 
and I've shown that I do have some skills," said Tonya. "I just 
need some more bouts to get under my belt." Tonya did, however, 
manage to knock Johnson down at one stage. Tonya sustained a 
blackened left eye and swollen nose for her efforts. 

"This is my first knockout," said Johnson, whose record now 
stands at 2-0-1. "I felt so much stronger than she was. I just 
felt like going in, like it's my town, my time to shine."

But this result has been marred by accusations of cheating and 
incompetent judging. Who says boxing isn't like figure skating?

Now, regular followers of Tonya news will know that accusations 
of dirty play and bad sportsmanship in any sports event involving 
Tonya are nothing new - but this time there's a twist: it's 
Tonya's opponent who's being accused of being the cheat! Tonya's 
manager Paul Brown filed a formal complaint with the Edmonton 
Boxing and Wrestling Commission over the referee's handling of 
the fight and the Commission held a hearing on September 1.

The basis for the complaint was the referee's handling of 
Johnson's knockdown of Tonya in the third round. Brown alleges 
several irregularities, such as Johnson being given extra time 
after the standing-eight count finished to get ready, and that 
Johnson did several things that indicated she wanted to give up, 
such as waving her arms and spitting out her mouthguard. Her 
trainer also stepped onto the side of the ring, which is used as 
a signal to indicate the fight should be stopped. Also of concern 
is that Johnson appeared to be engaging in the illegal practice 
of "lacing" - rubbing her gloves into Tonya's face - on several 

And Brown seems to have got some support from a surprising 
corner: Sue "Tiger Lily" Fox, of WBAN, the main women's boxing 
website, endorses Brown's view. As Fox was originally a skeptic 
about Tonya's boxing plans she can hardly be seen as someone 
biased in Tonya's favor. The WBAN site has video supplied by 
Brown of several sections of the fight and much of the text of 
his complaint:

The site also has video of part of the second round of the fight 
where Tonya's knockdown of Johnson occurred. If you don't have a 
broadband connection the best way to view this is to right-click 
and save one of the "cable" versions to your hard disk and run it 
from there. Although it will take about 15 minutes to download, 
the results will be much clearer than trying to view the dial-up 
version provided. In addition to the issue of the knockout, 
notice how Johnson apparently spends several seconds holding onto 
Tonya and pushing her gloves into Tonya's face, which seems to 
support Brown's claim that she was engaging in the practice of 
"lacing" that he refers to in his complaint.

Firstly, Johnson waves her arms at the ref., which could be taken 
as indicating she wants to give up. Johnson has her mouthpiece in 
when she waves to the ref, so clearly she can't be saying 
anything at that stage, so it's not clear what the arm-waving 
means. The ref would have been quite entitled to assume she was 
conceding. She then spits it out as she walks away from him to 
her corner. He is actually counting with his fingers as well and 
by the time he finishes Johnson is still not ready, she is about 
to say something to the guy in her corner. It's almost as if she 
doesn't realize the count has actually finished at this point, or 
just doesn't understand the rules. She then turns around and has 
a discussion with the ref, replaces the mouthguard and is then 
allowed to continue. In fact the fight doesn't resume until 
around 8 seconds AFTER the standing-8 count finishes, so Johnson 
effectively had 16 seconds - double the time she was supposed to 
be allowed - to regain her composure and start fighting again. 
Whatever the reason for the delay, she should have been 
disqualified as she was clearly not ready to resume fighting when 
the referee finished his count.

Despite this clear evidence, for reasons that have not so far 
become public, the EBWC then refused Brown's request for the 
result to be ruled a no-contest. So it looks as if Tonya has once 
gain been ripped off. Fortunately this may not be the end of the 
matter, as Brown is keen to schedule a rematch, preferably in 
Portland during early 2005, perhaps even at the same time as the 
upcoming US Figure Skating Nationals that will be held in that 
city when interest in Tonya will naturally resurface.

Here are some more articles about the fight:

This article also discusses the complaint:


The actions of the referee in Edmonton and the Edmonton Boxing 
and Wrestling Commission may have cost Tonya big bucks:

In an article in the Oregonian the same Canadian promoter who 
arranged the Johnson fight, Wayne Barry, was quoted as saying 
that a group of Edmonton businessmen are behind a deal that would 
see Tonya get a guaranteed $600,000 plus a share of the gate 
takings and pay-per-view revenues in a fight that would have 
taken place sometime next February against Jelana Mrdjenovich, a 
Canadian fighter of Serbian extraction. "I would anticipate she 
would make a million and a half," Barry said. If so, it would be 
the biggest payout ever for women's boxing, where prize money is 
puny compared to men's boxing, even for well known fighters such 
as Laila Ali and Christy Martin. It would also at last bring 
Tonya some financial stability and a long overdue compensation 
for her hard work that she was robbed of by the skating 

Mrdjenovich, aged 22, fought on the undercard of the Johnson 
bout. With a 5-0 record with four knockouts she is well known in 
Canada and backers expect that combining her with the notorious 
Tonya would bring alot of interest.

The Mrdjenovich fight was, however, contingent on Tonya winning 
her four-round fight against Johnson. With Tonya's loss, the deal 
is now up in the air and may not go ahead.


Edmonton wasn't the only Tonya event recently to end in 
controversy. When we last reported, Tonya was in Oakland, 
California, preparing for a fight against Tracy Carlton. Tonya 
was originally supposed to fight Blanca Hilder but pulled out 
when it was discovered that Hilder was nowhere near as 
inexperienced as she had been made out to be: 

"They tried to pull a fast one on us with Hilder," Tonya's 
trainer Paul Brown says, "They said it was her pro debut. She'd 
never fought before, but we found out she was a West Coast 
kickboxing champion with a 15-2 record." As it turned out, Tonya 
would not fight that day at all, with the fight eventually being 
between Hilder and Carlton in front of a 3000 strong crowd.

Needless to say the promoters have tried to make it look like 
Tonya's fault, issuing a nasty press release about how Tonya had 
pulled out of two previous fights. They fail to mention, of 
course, that the first pullout was on the advice of her doctors 
and the second on the advice of her lawyers - nothing that Tonya 
instigated. Nor do they admit their perfidy in trying to con 
Tonya into fighting someone with much more experience than they 
make out (or the fact that their proposed "alternative", Carlton, 
was a good 20 centimeters or 8 inches taller than Tonya which 
would have made the match a total joke).

"If they were honest with us (about Hilder's amateur record), we 
wouldn't have been in that situation," Brown said. "Tonya is in 
the developmental stages."

Shortly afterwards the true reason for Tonya's refusal to fight 
was revealed: the Associated Press reported that Tonya's trainer 
Paul Brown received a telephoned death threat shortly before the 

Despite the height difference, Tonya was quite happy to fight 
Carlton until things got ugly. It appears that the trouble began 
around the time of the weigh-in at the Hilton Hotel on Friday 
before the California Boxing Commission. Brown says that he and 
Tonya were in the hotel bar when some of Carlton's people began 
threatening Tonya and trying to cause problems, with Tonya being 
subjected to threats and racial slurs - stuff that goes way 
beyond the usual "trash talking" that occurs in boxing.

"We went before the boxing commission like professionals," Brown 
said, "but even before the paperwork was filled out, this girl 
(Carlton, who is black) began making racial insults against 
Tonya. It got so bad one of the commissioners jumped up and said, 
'That's enough. If you continue this behavior, there will not be 
a fight.' We were just not going to get caught up in a bunch of 

Brown and Tonya then left the bar as a result. "I had to get her 
out of there. It was almost like there was going to be a race 
riot," Brown was quoted by the Portland Tribune as saying. 
Shortly afterward, he says, he received a call on his cell phone 
from a man saying "If Tonya doesn't fight, I'll kill you."

"I'm a mortician by trade," Brown said. "I treat death with the 
utmost respect. I don't play when it comes to death and death 

Brown says the promoters then "offered us $15,000 to stay and 
fight. We walked away from $24,000. You can't spend it if you're 
dead." Brown and Tonya then returned to Portland. A complaint was 
filed with the Oakland Police.

It is, of course, not the first time Tonya has been forced to 
withdraw from a competition because of a threat to her safety. In 
November 1993 Tonya withdrew from a USFSA skating competition in 
Portland after also receiving a threat.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a lengthy article and a photo of 
Tonya with Blanca Hilder. It also debunks the idea that some are 
floating that Tonya was just trying to get paid for nothing. 
Tonya will in fact not get paid for the fight, and Brown has 
promised that $2000 that was advanced will be returned. Tonya in 
fact gets nothing out of this but alot of aggravation:

Another article is from the Contra Costa Times (reprinted in the 
San Jose Mercury News):


Early in May Comedy Central aired the episode of "The Man Show" 
that Tonya recorded back in March. In order to promote the show, 
Tonya embarked on an ambitious media blitz that saw her doing 
dozens of radio interviews over two days in late April involving 
stations from across the entire country. In addition, a clip from 
the match was broadcast on the "Tonite Show With Jay Leno" on NBC 
in early May during an interview with one of the show's hosts.

Tonya fights three rounds with the show's host, Doug Stanhope. In 
radio interviews Tonya gave the impression that lots of fun was 
had by all.

Here are a couple of articles about Tonya's appearance that may 
be of interest. The first is a general interview about Tonya's 
new career:

The second is an interview with Tonya and Doug Stanhope:

Unfortunately one side effect of Tonya having to do this 
promotional work was that she missed out on a scheduled session 
with world renowned nutritionist Makie Shilstone in New Orleans.


June also saw the publication of a lengthy and reasonably 
positive article in the Washington Post about Tonya (and no, it's 
not by Christine Brennan). The article was widely redistributed, 
even turning up here in our hometown paper of "The Christchurch 

Much of the article covers Tonya's boxing and her life up until 
now, territory that will be familiar to long-time Tonya 
followers. But it is good to see her getting such significant and 
favorable coverage in the mainstream media.

The article does, however, contain one contentious point: it 
claims that the decline in popularity of the name "Tonya" itself 
was caused by the Kerrigan scandal. In fact, the article's own 
figures, drawn from US Social Security data, show that "Tonya" 
was already on the decline well before the Kerrigan incident, 
having dropped from 52nd in popularity in its heyday of the 1970s 
to 571st in 1993. In 1996 it was 923rd and in 1998 it fell out of 
the top 1000 names altogether. 

A closer analysis of the data at the Social Security web site 
shows that "Tonya" first appeared in the top 1000 in the 1950s 
where it ranked as 434th. It then rose to 120th in the 60s, 
peaked at 52nd in the 70's and dropped back to 166th in the 80s. 
In the 90s, the earliest decade for which year by year data is 
available, the decline continued:

1990 - 393
1991 - 447 - down 54 places
1992 - 477 - down 30 places
1993 - 571 - down 94 places
1994 - 621 - down 50 places
1995 - 773 - down 152 places
1996 - 921 - down 148 places
1997 - 923 - down 2 places

So although the Kerrigan incident probably did have an effect, it 
was just the final nail in the coffin for a name that was already 
out of fashion anyway and it's ridiculous to blame Tonya Harding 
for the decline.


The end of June marked the tenth anniversary of one of the most 
disgraceful events in the sport of figure skating - the shafting 
of one of its top competitors on the basis of flimsy evidence, 
most of it either circumstantial or based on the rantings of 
liars and convicted criminals.

At the end of June 1994, the United States Figure Skating 
Association over a period of two days held a nine-hour, closed-
door disciplinary hearing in Colorado Springs into the Harding-
Kerrigan incident, a hearing that in a unanimous decision ended 
with a life ban being imposed upon Tonya Harding in relation to 
USFSA-sanctioned events. In an attempt to alter history, the 
five-member hearing panel also stripped Tonya of her 1994 
Nationals title that she had won earlier that year. Tonya was not 
present at the hearing, and did not appeal the findings, though 
given the USFSA's long hostility towards her it probably would 
have been a waste of time. The report prepared by the panel, 
believed to run for several hundred pages, has never been 
publicly released.

"By a preponderance of the evidence, the five members of the 
panel concluded that she had prior knowledge and was involved 
prior to the incident," hearing panel chairman William Hybl said 
to the "Washington Post" afterwards in a telephone interview from 
Colorado Springs. "This is based on civil standards, not criminal 
standards." They found that Tonya's conduct "intentionally 
undermines the concept of sportsmanship and fair play embodied in 
the USFSA bylaws and rules and amateur sportsmanship in general". 

"Ms. Harding's actions as they related to the assault on Nancy 
Kerrigan evidence a clear disregard for fairness, good 
sportsmanship and ethical behavior," the panel added. The hearing 
went ahead despite the fact that Tonya had resigned from the 
USFSA several months earlier as the USFSA wanted to "finalize" 
Tonya's status, Hybl said. "We want there to be no doubt". 

Tonya's attorney, Robert Weaver, issued a statement on her behalf 
saying "She categorically denies the statements of Jeff Gillooly 
and others relied upon by the hearing panel that she had any 
prior knowledge of or participated in the assault on Nancy 

The effects of the ban have gone way beyond merely depriving 
Tonya of a chance to participate in USFSA events. It also 
prohibits her from skating as a pro in events that contain USFSA 
skaters and means she can no longer be a coach of record, which 
further shuts off her vocational options in skating. Furthermore, 
many pro skaters have been afraid to skate with Tonya because of 
a perception, whether real or not, that they will be subjected to 
similar unofficial blacklisting by the USFSA. As a result, Tonya 
has since skated in only one competition, a one-off event for 
ESPN in Huntington, West Virginia, in October 1999 where she came 
second. With such limited options Tonya has been forced to turn 
to a variety of other ways of making a living, culminating 
recently in her boxing career.

That such a harsh punishment was imposed is galling, given the 
thinness of the case against Tonya, but it is especially 
hypocritical in view of the sport's reaction to other much worse 
offenses where there is much stronger evidence. In particular, 
the slap-on-the-wrist punishments handed out to cheating judges, 
who often return to adjudicate over high-level contests after 
token bans of only two or three years, or even less. We've seen 
this at Nagano and at Salt Lake City, and despite calls for 
reform from fans it is likely to continue, given the ISU's 
predilection for secrecy. The gutlessness of the USFSA, one of 
the few skating organizations with enough power to stand up to 
the ISU and force it to come down hard on cheating judges is 
astounding and displays a blatant double standard. Who has caused 
more damage to skating - Tonya, who at worst covered up, under 
duress, a crime committed by others that attempted to 
disadvantage only a single competitor, or those who repeatedly 
try to rig entire contests - and do so over and over again? Or 
those in the ISU and its affiliates who turn a blind eye or even 
actively try to cover up such cheating with secret scoring 
systems and by punishing whistleblowers who dare to speak out?

It's time to stop the hypocrisy and let Tonya skate again.


A "muse" is a figure in Greek classical mythology that inspires 
creativity in artistic types. And we've had two examples just 
recently of Tonya being the inspiration for creative endeavors.

Richard Moore is one of Portland's hardest working actors - yet 
most people wouldn't recognize him if he walked past them in a 

Moore is a "voice talent" - one of those people who make a living 
doing voiceovers for radio and TV commercials. He's also a 
recording engineer and a songwriter who has recorded several 
albums. His story is told in a recent article in the Portland 

Most importantly for us, he's also a Tonyaphile. His latest 
album, "What Goes Around", features a song about our favorite 
skater turned boxer. Entitled simply "Tonya", the song is a 
heartfelt piece about the cruel treatment Tonya received in her 
home town. You can hear a two-minute extract from it at:

You can also visit Richard Moore's web site at And you can order the CD at:

The second example is a British fashion designer, Peter Jensen, 
who chose to show off his spring/summer 2005 collection at an ice 
rink during London's recent Fashion Week promotion. The 
collection, which bears something of a resemblance to figure-
skating costumes, was modeled by skaters leaping and gliding 
around the rink rather than on a catwalk in what has to be a 
relatively unconventional method of fashion display.

In an article in The Independent newspaper Jensen specifically 
cites Tonya as the inspiration for the collection. But then 
Jensen has a history of being inspired by unlikely public 
figures: since he graduated from Central Saint Martins art 
college in 1999, some of his previous collections have been 
dedicated to Gertrude Stein, Cindy Sherman and Russian gymnast 
Olga Korbut.


With the Athens Olympics in the news recently, we thought it was 
an opportune time to take a look at what progress the IOC has 
made since Salt Lake in cleaning up its act. And the answer is 
definitely "nice try, but no cigar".

In a little-reported move virtually on the eve of the Games 
commencing, the IOC has taken action against two of its sleaziest 
members: Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, the crooked rainforest logger from 
Indonesia and Ivan Slavkov, the son-in-law of former Bulgarian 
dictator Todor Zhivkov, who has been charged with embezzling 
Olympic funds and illegal arms trading. Hasan was suspended by 
the IOC in May 2001 but his expulsion was postponed while his 
conviction for a forest mapping swindle was reviewed by the 
courts. He served four years of a six year sentence and is now 
free on parole. It also comes two months after the suspension of 
Dr. Un-Yong Kim of Korea after his conviction on bribery charges. 
It's quite a comedown for Kim, who was at one stage seen as a 
possible successor to Samaranch, but should be no surprise as he 
was one of the biggest players in the SLC scandal, for which he 
received a "serious warning". Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

This is quite a change from 2000 when the IOC threw a hissy fit 
at Hasan being refused leave from jail to attend the Sydney 
Olympics. They also seem to be at last getting serious about 
clamping down on drugs, with 24 dopers - double the previous 
highest number, set at Los Angeles in 1984 - being caught at 
Athens. Could it be that change is finally happening in the IOC?

Well, maybe, but still not enough. A one-year undercover 
investigation by the BBC's "Panorama" team indicates that some 
members are still soliciting bribes, just a bit more carefully 
than before. The truckloads of gifts and expensive junkets may be 
gone, but the wads of dirty cash in envelopes are still there. 
Often the money is laundered through several intermediaries in 
order to disguise what's really going on.

In a new documentary which aired in Britain earlier last month, 
"Buying the Games", "Panorama" found that "fixers" are still 
offering to sell the votes of some IOC members to bidding cities 
for the right price. Posing as agents for a group of London 
businessmen eager to see that city get the Games, BBC reporters 
met with four of these "agents". Most disturbingly, one of these 
fixers claims that approximately 70% of those who took bribes 
over Salt Lake are still in the IOC, and even supplied a list of 
35 IOC members they claim are open to corruption. These claims 
are in line with those by Max Wheeler, a lawyer who worked on the 
Salt Lake case, who says in the documentary "we had gone through 
and made a list of IOC members that we could prove had accepted 
gifts or benefits, and we figured it was something like 85% of 
the total membership of the IOC had engaged in at least one 
violation during our bid".

"Panorama" also uncovered new evidence about Stockholm's 
unsuccessful bid for the 2004 Games. Mats Ekman, a Swedish 
researcher, has compiled a database of tens of thousands of 
entries relating to the bid and concludes that Stockholm was just 
as dirty as Salt Lake City. "The Swedish bid committee afterwards 
(were) denying the whole time, denying, denying, denying. 'We 
didn't use an agent, we played a fair game.' They didn't. They 
played an unfair game" says Ekman. 

Ekman has discovered some very interesting banking transactions 
made by the bid committee head two days before the final vote. At 
11.10 that morning Olaf Stenhammer, the chairman of the Swedish 
bid committee, withdrew 460,000 Krona from his personal bank 
account and transferred it to another account where thirty 
minutes later an associate withdrew the money in the form of nine 
separate bank drafts possibly to avoid the attention of money 
laundering authorities. These bank drafts were then changed into 
$US50,000 in hundred dollar bills at several currency exchanges 
across central Stockholm. Stenhammer claimed that the 50 grand 
was for a family holiday and never left Sweden. Sweden's chief 
state prosecutor investigated the Olympic bid and was sceptical 
of Stenhammer's explanation. After all, why would you need to 
change Swedish currency into US dollars if you're holidaying in 

The BBC team's biggest catch, however, was Slavkov, who was 
caught in the act of soliciting a bribe. This is the reason for 
his suspension.

Further details can be found at:

A full transcript of the program can be found here:

We've updated our Olympic Hall of Shame table to reflect these 
recent developments:


PortIce -
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