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The Cocktail Hour

Meet MMA Champion And Activist Kayla Harrison

WHO: Two-time Olympic gold medalist, professional fighters league MMA star, advocate and author Kayla Harrison.

WHAT: The Monkey Goes Bananas Rum Old Fashioned paired with wood fire-roasted meatballs with pomodoro, ricotta and grilled ciabatta, the mortadella panino of provolone piccante, sourdough and giardiniera and the smoked prosciutto pizzetta with fig, taleggio, spicy honey and crispy sage.

WHERE: Mizn'ers Monkey Bar at The Boca Raton Resort & Club / 501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton / 561.447.3000 / bocaresort.com / @bocaresort

Becoming the first American ever to win the Olympic gold medal in judo at the 2012 games in London was: truly surreal. To go to the Olympics is a dream come true. You're in the .000001-percent of the population. To represent my country on the greatest stage in the world and win a gold medal is literally what I have dreamt of since I was a child.

Winning a second Olympic gold medal four years later in Rio was different because: this time it was for me. In London, I felt like I owed it to everyone who was a part of my journey. Every doctor, every training partner, my coaches, my family, every [sexual abuse] survivor. But in Rio, I wanted to prove to myself that it wasn't a fluke, that I truly am one of one. I'm special, and I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to.

Something that most people don't know about my former training partner, teammate and roommate Ronda Rousey is: she is a very giving person. When I was 16 and dead broke, she would pay for my groceries, or take me for fancy dinners. She stood up for me in an online forum when people were trying to victim-shame me. She's tough, but she's also kind.

The reason why I decided to start my Fearless Foundation, and to release my book “Fighting Back” is because: I want to leave the world better than I found it. There's lots of education on stranger-danger and cyberbullying, but there are no educational tools to help us talk to our youth about what they should do if someone close to them tries to take advantage of them. “Fighting Back” is that tool. Its an in-depth look using my journal entries and my own story of what sexual abuse is, and how we can prevent it. I have been given an amazing opportunity and platform to help make a difference in the world. It would be a sin for me not to.

An Ohio native, Kayla Harrison began her illustrious career in judo at the age of six. Beyond making history by winning Olympic gold medals for Team USA at both the 2012 and 2016 games, Harrison is also a two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Games, as well as a gold and two-time bronze medalist at the World Judo Championships. After signing with the The Professional Fighters League (PFL), Harrison made her MMA debut in June 2018, and at the time of publication, has amassed a perfect 6-0 record. Arguably the face and biggest star of the PFL, Harrison recently resigned her contract to remain with the league, whose television rights were acquired by ESPN in 2019. Harrison is scheduled to fight next for the PFL $1,000,000 championship prize on New Year's Eve at famed Madison Square Garden. A survivor and activist, Harrison launched the “Fearless Foundation” with the mission “to shine a light on the darkness that is child sexual abuse and to enrich the lives of survivors through education and sport, leading survivors to mastery and enabling them to flourish in all aspects of life.” An avid reader and lover of dogs and the beach, Harrison currently resides in Coconut Creek.

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ABOUT THE COCKTAIL:

The Monkey Goes Bananas Rum Old Fashioned:

1.5 ounces Ron Zacapa 23 Rum

0.5 ounces Tempus Fugit Creme De Banane Liqueur

3 dashes black walnut bitters

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients, add ice, stir and chill. Strain over a single large ice cube. Garnish with banana chips.

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