Kayla Harrison claimed another dominant victory in the semi-finals of the women’s lightweight tournament at PFL 8 with a TKO victory over Genah Fabian, securing a final showdown with Taylor Guardado.
In the post-fight interview, Kayla Harrison was at her best, saying even UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, known for his elite defense against withdrawal, wouldn’t be able to stop it.
Prior to practicing mixed martial arts, Kayla Harrison was a judoka with a long list of achievements to her credit. She won the 2010 World Judo Championships, a gold medalist at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games champion.
However, Kayla Harrison’s journey to the top was not without its challenges.
In 2011, before competing and winning her first Olympic gold medal, Kayla Harrison opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her former coach during her teenage years.
Kayla Harrison’s judo instructor in Middletown, Ohio, Daniel Doyle, subjected her to sexual abuse and emotional manipulation between the ages of 13 and 16. She shared her story with USA Today in November 2011 after reports of sexual abuse cases at universities like Penn State and Michigan State.
Daniel Doyle was a friend of the Harrisons’ family who looked after her and her siblings, and had been her trainer since the age of eight. He was convicted after Harrison told another student at the academy about the abuse, who then told Harrison’s mother Jeannie Yazell about it.
Daniel Doyle was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in 2007, and Yazell took his daughter several miles to Boston, Massachusetts so that Kayla Harrison could continue her training under the tutelage of Jimmy and Big Jim Pedro.
Harrison has spoken about the matter several times since then. In her own words, she wants her story to educate parents of children and young adults about the signs of abuse in the relationships their children share with other adults, and also help survivors of sexual abuse heal and to recover from the trauma.
“When I was 16, having just moved to Boston to train with Olympic coaches Jimmy Pedro and his father, I had also just revealed to my mother that my first coach had sexually assaulted me. tumultuous time. Every day I thought about quitting the sport. I thought about running away, becoming a barista in New York where no one would know me or look at me. I struggled with suicidal thoughts for years, during and after the abuse, but having purpose – the dream of being an Olympic champion – and strong people around me helped me in my darkest hours, “Kayla Harrison wrote in a CNN exclusive.
Kayla Harrison has teamed up with leading psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School to write her book “Fighting Back: What An Olympic Champion’s Story Can Teach Us about Recognizing and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse – and Helping Kids Recover”.
Kayla Harrison also founded a nonprofit organization called the “Fearless Foundation”, whose goal is, according to the official website, “to shed light on the darkness of child sexual abuse and to enrich the lives of survivors. through education and sport, leading survivors to mastery and enabling them to thrive in all aspects of life. “
Kayla Harrison on Larry Nassar Sexual Abuse Case
In a 2018 interview with Newspaper, Kayla Harrison paid tribute to the many victims of Larry Nassar, former doctor of the United States National Women’s Gymnastics Team and former professor at Michigan State University.
“I’m really proud and in awe of the survivors. They are like an army of survivors. I’ve said it a million times, but sexual abuse is horrible, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. “Abuse affects you for the rest of your life. These girls will live with scars forever. No prison sentence can fix that,” Kayla Harrison told the outlet.
Larry Nassar was sentenced to multiple state and federal prison terms, de facto tantamount to life imprisonment without parole.
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