5 Bizarre Facts About The Tonya Harding Debacle

On Jan 6, 1994, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on the right leg in an assault planned by the ex-husband of her rival, Tonya Harding. Here are bizarre facts of the case that shocked the figure skating community and the world...


The Attack Was Meant to Take Kerrigan Out of Competition It was reported that Harding's ex contacted Harding's bodyguard Eckardt to plan to attack. The bodyguard reportedly paid hit man Shane Stant $6,500 to whack Kerrigan and take her out of competition. Kerrigan's doctor told The New York Times: "He was clearly trying to debilitate her."

Harding's Ex-Husband Turned Himself in to the FBI Less than two weeks after the hit, an arrest warrant for Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly was put out. Because of this, he decided to turn himself into the FBI. Shortly after, he implicated himself and four others—Tonya Harding, Shawn Eckhardt, Shane Stant and Derrick B. Smith. Gillooly ended up pleading guilty to racketeering. This left him with just a two-year sentence for the entire attack. Smith and Stant each got 18-month sentences for their involvement a few months later.


A Handwritten Note Lead To Harding Being Guilty For a while, Harding’s involvement was still questionable. It was thought that she might have something to do with it, but it hadn’t been proven. Harding's ex told authorities that she called the Tony Kent Arena, where Kerrigan practiced in Michigan, to find out her schedule to help coordinate an attack. Harding denied his accusation when asked about it by the FBI. Gillooly even gave the FBI a scrap piece of paper with the name of the arena jotted down, saying Harding had written it. The FBI tested the handwriting and determined that the writing was Harding's. This was the evidence needed to confirm that Harding was involved.

Harding Was Banned From Professional Figure Skating Harding was charged with hindering the investigation and was fined $160,000 and sentenced to probation for three years, while Gillooly and others served time. The US Figure Skating Association banned her for life and her win at the US Nationals in 1994 was revoked. Harding resurfaced in 2002 as a boxer on a show called “Celebrity Boxing.”

After The Scandal, Harding Tried Her Hand At Boxing Harding's boxing career came about amid rumors that she was having financial difficulties and needed to fight in the ring to earn money. In 2002, Harding boxed against Paula Jones on the Fox Network Celebrity Boxing event, winning the fight. She thenmade her official women's professional boxing debut, losing a four-round split decision against Samantha Browning on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs. Clifford Etienne. Her boxing career was cut short by her asthma. Her overall record was 3 wins and 3 losses.