Kayla Harrison, a former judo world champion who took home gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games, was being interviewed in the middle of the ring after she defeated Cindy Dandois in the first round of their June 25 fight with an arm bar submission.
In a post-bout interview, after warning her Professional Fighters League competitors that she was coming for the throne, she turned and urged the audience to donate to the Champlain Towers South collapse victims.
“I remember being worried if my friend was OK and the panic that set in,” she said. “And I could just picture all these family members and people who knew people who live there, or who live there themselves, and the panic and the fear that sets in.”
The tragedy stuck in her head leading up to the fight, she said, so much so that she decided she would make a public plea on behalf of the victim’s families if she was given the mic.
“I felt terrible,” she said. “And the only thing I know how to do when I feel terrible, or when I’m down or when there’s something that I want to fix, is to try to get up and do something about it. That’s why we decided to do this.”
Harrison is asking for donations to her charity, the Fearless Foundation, which normally works to help survivors or sexual abuse. Those donations will be given to two charities in support of the Surfside victims – the Surfside Hardship Fund and the Shul of Bal Harbour Central Emergency Fund.