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  Harding Manages 'American Love Machine'

Compiled by Robert Fachet
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 22, 1994; Page C2

Flanked by professional wrestlers of various shapes and sizes, figure skater Tonya Harding made a bizarre return to the public spotlight Monday night in Portland, Ore. She said almost nothing before what was billed as a news conference "greeting" a group of wrestlers from Mexico degenerated into a show of bilingual shouting, shoving and racism.

Harding has a contract to attend a wrestling extravaganza tonight in Vancouver, Wash., where she will be "celebrity manager" for Art Barr, who wrestles under the name "American Love Machine."

Harding has kept a low profile since she pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution in the Jan. 6 attack on skater Nancy Kerrigan. But she has hired an agent and is exploring show business opportunities. Her first appearance was in the world of professional wrestling, a world she said she always has admired.

She carried a glass of water into the room at Portland International Airport. Later, the American Love Machine grabbed the glass of water and tossed it into the face of an enemy wrestler called Konnan.

Harding's agent, Merrill Eichenberger, had indicated she would be able to answer a few questions, so all the local television stations showed up. But she never gave them a chance.

She walked in with about a dozen wrestlers, including a midget wearing an orange wig and a green mask, a man in a red, white and blue costume and another little guy with a helmet-like mask covered with question marks.

"Hello everyone," she said. "It's just exciting to be here and be part of this group of wonderful people, wonderful wrestlers and great athletes. I just want to thank them."

The event quickly degenerated into the usual pro wrestling gibberish and at one point, as wrestlers exchanged shouts in two languages, one of them pointed at Harding shouting, "She's bad news. She's bad news."

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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