Bellator 233’s Janay Harding talks growing up in Australia, appreciation for mom

Bellator’s featherweight Janay “Hollowpoint” Harding moved from her homeland New Zealand to Gold Coast, Australia at the age of 10, her single mother Brenda paved the way of unforeseen opportunities while dealing with financial difficulties.

“A single parent like my mom struggled to have me and provide for the both of us. We had some hard times in the way of having enough food for us,” Harding said. “When we did move on to Australia, we shared a room in a house with another family.”

Growing up as the only child, Harding went from having her own space to sharing a bed with her mother – crammed up living in a home of a family of two children.

Many of Brenda’s friends made the move to Australia, and she saw how positive it was for them. Brenda thought of making the as well.

“We sort of went from there, she just gambled on it and it worked out. We had our hiccups and our financial troubles,” Harding said. “Somehow my mom always figured it out and I still ended up doing hobbies and making time to do extracurricular stuff. Sometimes I look back and I don’t know how she managed to do that.”

All of Harding’s family were back in New Zealand, which made it more of a gamble to move to Gold Coast and had no sort of support, she added.

The social crowd in school was a bit of an adjustment for the Maori native, transitioning from a small Christchurch suburb like Haswell compared to “quite a progressive” Gold Coast. Harding stayed busy during afterschool hours as she competed in karate for five years.

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“After getting my blackbelt, I got bored of the karate style just because it wasn’t as challenging as I would hope. Then, I decided to transition to MMA and I stuck with it,” Harding said. “I highly doubt I would’ve gotten into something like MMA in Christchurch. I wouldn’t have sought so many opportunities as I had in Australia.”

Safety concerns first came to mind when Brenda found out about Harding wanting to get in the cage, as any other parent. She has attended most of the fights in Australia and showed full support of Harding’s fighting career.

“I think a lot of the times looking back these experiences and understanding what not only what I sacrificed but mainly what my mom sacrificed for me to be here,” Harding said. “The opportunities that I’ve been given, definitely motivates me more. Especially a stage like Bellator, I know that I’ve earned my keep and I’m worthy of being here. It makes me just that much hungrier to make a successful career.”

Harding (5-3) returns to the cage on Friday night against featherweight Amanda Bell (6-6) in the prelims of Bellator 233, at WinStar World Casino & Resort. The undercard streams live at 6:45 p.m. ET on Paramount Network.

Cristhian Plasencia

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