Tonya Harding Back On The Ice

Ten years after skating at the Lillehammer Olympic Games, Tonya Harding, now 33, has decided to lace up her figure skates and has incorporated figure skating into her training routine for boxing.

And the only American woman to land a triple axle in competition tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith she is seeking reinstatement in the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

The association banned her for life as a result of her role in the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan during the association's 1994 national championship in Detroit. Her former husband and three others served time for the attack. Through a plea bargain, Harding paid fines and performed community service.

On Tuesday, Hardiong skated for The Early Show at New York City's Wollman Rink in Central Park. "Now, I have prepared myself for this small exhibition for six days," Harding said before demonstrating she could still do some serious jumping.

"Well, little ones," she modestly said, "It wasn't as great as I wanted it to be, but, you know, for six days' worth of practice."

There are several reasons why she is back on the ice, she explained. "I have always loved skating and I want to skate for people. Paul [Paul Brown, her boxing trainer] said the training regimen is very similar. There's a lot of power and strength and charisma trying to get into the fighting as there is in the jumps. So we said let's try it and see if it starts working," she said.

As for seeking reinstatement with the United States Figure Skating Commission, she said, "I'm one of the best skaters in the world and I'm not going to quit. I love boxing and I'm not going to quit boxing."

Of the USFSA ban, she said, "It's worth a chance, worth a shot." Her hope is that she can compete again.

In the meantime, Harding is scheduled to fight in Oakland, Calif., at the Oakland Arena in March 20. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the first fight is at 7:30 p.m. The Headliners are Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Juan Marcios. Tickets go on sale Feb. 28 on tickets.com or at the Oakland Arena box office.

Harding is also scheduled to fight in Edmonton, Canada, in June. No opponents have been named.

Her January fight in Boise, Idaho, was canceled because of continuing legal problems. The rights to promote her boxing career are still being sorted out. Brown said there have been offers to have Harding fight in London and in Tokyo.

Harding doesn't consider herself a boxing expert, so while she is learning the sport, she considers carefully whom she opposes.

Thus far, it has been a lucrative career for her. She commands $12,000 to $15,000 per match, which is pretty much unheard-of in women's boxing. That money is based on her continued ability to sell tickets due to her name.

She decided to pursue boxing after fighting and beating Paula Jones in a Celebrity Boxing event nearly two years ago in March, 2002. Harding claims she had one hour of training for that bout.

She has been working with Brown since last summer.
  • Tatiana Morales

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