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Tonya Maxine Harding (born November 12, 1970) is a figure skater from Portland, Oregon. After a tough childhood in an unstable lower-class family, plagued by asthma, she went on to win the U.S. national figure skating competition twice and place second in the 1991 world championship. She was the second woman, and the first American, to ever complete the Triple Axel jump in a competition.
She became famous in an Olympic scandal in 1994 for allegedly conspiring to harm the career of competitor Nancy Kerrigan in an attack, having her struck on the knee. Harding went on to win the 1994 U.S. championships, but later the U.S. Figure Skating Association stripped Tonya Harding of her 1994 national championship and banned her from the organization for life. Along with Kerrigan, she participated in the Olympic Games in the same year; she finished eighth and Kerrigan second. On February 1, 1994, Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against Harding. Harding avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence in that scandal by pleading guilty on March 16 to hindering the investigation into the attack. She received three years probation, 500 hours community service and a $110,000 fine. She maintains her innocence in the planning of the attack itself, contradicting the confessions of the alleged conspirators.
Looking into the attack, the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) stripped her of her U.S. title and banned her for life from participating in any of its sanctioned events, or from becoming a sanctioned coach, because it concluded that she had indeed known about the attack before it happened.
Tonya Harding is a notorious example of a nude Internet celebrity because of a "Wedding Video" that shows her having sex with her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly on several occasions. Gillooly (who, not long after the scandal began to fade from prominence, changed his name to "Jeff Stone") sold the tape to a tabloid show after having been implicated as a conspirator in the Kerrigan attack. Stills from the tape were published by Penthouse in September 1994, and the tape itself was released at about the same time.
In 2002, Tonya Harding boxed on the Fox TV network against Paula Jones, winning the fight. On February 22, 2003, she made her official women's professional boxing debut, losing a four round decision in the undercard of the Mike Tyson-Clifford Ettiene bout, amid rumors that she is broke and needs to box to get some money.