Olympic Gold Medalist and Professional Fighting League standout Kayla Harrison has shed some light on the struggles she endured prior to winning Olympic gold.
Kayla Harrison earned gold medals in Judo at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. After making her anticipated transition in the world of MMA, many began pegging her as the next Ronda Rousey. In light of her domination in the PFL, the 11-0 unbeaten Judoka shared that it wasn’t always success and gold medals.
At the age of 16, Harrison admits that she was the victim of sexual abuse. In particular, the PFL mainstay insists that her judo coach took advantage of her while she painstakingly prepared for competition.
After reflecting on those bad times, the 31-year-old insists that she doesn’t want to be the person she was during those dark times.
“I wanna evolve as a fighter inside the cage, but also as a human being, you know,” Kayla Harrison told South Florida Channel 7 News. “I don’t wanna be the same person I was when I was 16. That kid was an [expletive].”
“I’ve been to the deepest, darkest, most terrible places that a human being’s soul can go,” Harrison said. “I’ve had things happen to me that should never happen to anyone.”
Following years of sexual abuse from her judo coach, Harrison at one point admits she was struggling for the motivation to live. The lightweight credits those close to her for helping enact change in her life.
“There were moments when I wanted to die, there were moments when I was suicidal, there were moments when I thought that it wasn’t worth it, you know,” she said. “Not just to go and keep doing Judo, but it wasn’t worth it to live.”
“I want every kid in America to have to know what sexual abuse is, to have to know what it looks like and I also wanna give people hope. Harrison said. So many victims fall prey to staying the victim, and a lot of them don’t make it out of that, ever in their lives. I wanna change that.”
Harrison’s story illustrates heroism and dealing with adversity. The Olympic gold medalist hopes to spread awareness to keep other children from falling victim to the traps she fell into at an impressionable age.
Harrison is confirmed to be fighting later this month against Taylor Guardado on October 27 in the 2021 PFL lightweight championship final.