McConnells view: Tonya hasnt paid her dues

Molly McConnell doesn't expect ex-skater to go very far as a boxer

I have mixed feelings about the whole Tonya Harding thing. Seeing someone as pathetic as Harding fight makes people appreciate the likes of Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker (and many more), who are truly skilled, talented and dedicated athletes.

But I am always drawn back to how my other half ÑÊthe fighter half ÑÊfeels about it. Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City is rumored to be paying Tonya $10,000 to fight there Friday night. How on Earth has she earned the right to make that much money for four rounds of crap?

The fighter in me feels sickened.

I, and other fighters like me, spend so much of our lives in the gym training to become champions, and we pay the price for it every day.

I pay the price in pulled muscles, bruises, broken teeth, shin splints, arthritic hands (already at the age of 30), no social life, very little free time and a fairly cautious and restrictive lifestyle.

I pay the price every time my friends go to a bar for cocktails (as thirtysomethings will occasionally do) and I decline because the smoke will weigh down my lungs and the alcohol will slow down my reflexes for a day or two. I pay the price when I go out to dinner with people and am forced to watch everything that I put into my body because I am constantly thinking about my weight.

I've been paying like this for the last five years, and I will continue to do so for the next five because what I get out of boxing is worth more than all of that.

I have learned how to set goals for myself and move along consistently until I reach them. I have learned about inner strength and self-respect and that you must build confidence one brick at a time.

Maybe most importantly, I have learned that I can be a physically and mentally strong woman who is able to get in touch with her inner beast and who loves to kick some butt!

So many women boxers have paid the same tolls I have. And I know in my heart that Harding doesn't pay like this and doesn't care like this, and that is why she will never be a champion.

Molly McConnell is Portland's first national amateur boxing champion since 1995, when light heavyweight Andre Haynes brought home the Police Athletic League title. She is the city's first Golden Gloves national champ since featherweight Andrew Minsker in 1983.