on Sports
Boxing Tonya


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman

        News item: Disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding has signed to begin her professional boxing career in an undercard match to the Tyson-Etienne match February 22 in Memphis. I had to put down Tonya’s favorite book – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- when I read this. What has boxing come to? Don’t answer that. On the other hand, maybe we can crank out a few more of the 1994 Tonya Harding T-Shirts. The front side has her picture. The back side reads “If you can’t beat ‘em, beat ‘em.”  When Tonya enters the ring, you can just imagine the old Trini Lopez song coming over the loud speakers – “If I had a Hammer.” If they serve drinks at the match, they’ll probably be sleazy enough to offer the Tonya Bobbit – a club soda with a slice.

    Consider this – Boxing is to sleaze as Tonya is to knees. A match made in trailer park heaven. And that’s Tonya, called the “White-Trash Poster Child” in 1994 Newsweek article, and maybe women’s pro boxing is her calling. Face it, in the ice skating game she was known as “a bead of raw sweat in a field of dainty perspirers.” Even if she had never opened up her own night
Spot – Club Nancy – she would have never been fully accepted in the ice game. Even if she never broke up with her husband – Jeff Gillooly – because he was hitting on other women, she would have slipped up somewhere. She was a wild child, a misplaced cue-stick, a mis-handled dragster, a one drink too many, a honeymoon video waiting to happen. 
Boxing Tonya


But you have to admit, her earlier match against Paula Jones, which propelled her in this direction was theatre unto itself. Jay Leno called it the “Wailer in the Trailer.” It had the two most infamous highly promotable trashies matched up. It was the Ice Star vs. the Starr Witness. It was the Nose Job vs. the Whack Job or the Nose Job vs. the Knee Job.  The Playboy Poser vs. the Knee Disposer. I’m not sure which one’s the best slogan but Paula Jones didn’t have a chance. Say what you want, Tonya is a highly skilled athlete and the best we know about Paula was she once out ran an overweight, pants-around-his-feet, governor with a two peek head start.

    Tonya’s opponent has not been named. It won’t matter. The interest will be there. Having Mike Tyson and Tonya Harding in the same building – The Pyramid – in Memphis will be enough for many. Check out the marquee. Lucky Strike cigarettes – certain to be Tonya’s sponsor – presents “Iron Mike and the Iron Pipe”. Or will it be “Captain Nuts and the Triple Lutz?” If Don King has anything to do with it, you can count on it.    
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