Gina Joy Carano is a former mixed martial artist, actress, and a fitness model. She began her career as a Muay Thai fighter and was crowned as ‘The Face of Women’s MMA’. She holds an amazing Muay Thai competitive record with 12 wins, one loss, and one draw. She is also the first American woman to win a title in Thailand in Muay Thai. She studied gymnastics, jazz, tap, ballet, and horse riding while growing up and excelled in basketball, volleyball, and softball in school. She is also trained in Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. Her MMA career consists of seven wins and one loss. She became a big MMA star due to her power, skills, and techniques in the ring combined with her laid-back personality and beautiful looks. As an actress she has acted in blockbuster movies in Hollywood such as ‘Haywire’ and ‘Fast & Furious 6’. She often faced criticism that she used her sex appeal to advance in her career. Such harsh words never affected her winning spirit and fans continued showering their love upon her. She is an inspiration to many due to her undeniable talent, strong character, and determination.
Childhood & Early Life
Gina Carano was born on 16 April 1982 in Dallas County, Texas (US) to Dana Joy and Glenn Thomas Carano, a professional football player. Gina has Italian ancestry along with traces of English, Scottish, and German heritage.
She has an older sister, Casey, and a younger one, Christie. Though her parents divorced in her childhood and she was primarily raised by her mother, her father played an integral part in her upbringing.
She finished graduation from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas, Nevada where she also helped the basketball team securing the state title. She then attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to study psychology for three years after attending a year in the University of Nevada, Reno.
However, during her last year she dropped her studies to support her older sister through a crisis. At 21, she started Muay Thai training with Master Toddy on the advice of her then-boyfriend Kevin Ross.
She started training hard after a trainer at the Muay Thai gym told her that she was fat and had to lose weight. The four-time world kickboxing champion Master Toddy was impressed to see her determination.
The master saw potential in her powerful punches, deadly elbows, hard kicks, natural strength, and agility. She excelled in the sport with his encouragement and landed in ‘Fight-Club’ scenarios in San Francisco, triumphing over female fighters.
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In 2006, Gina Carano appeared in ‘Ring Girls’, a cult movie about five women Muay Thai fighters challenging the best fighters all over the world. Her real-life success in the sport, beauty, and personality drew her a significant number of fans. She also played the role of an ice breaker for female boxers in Thailand.
In June 2006, Jamie Levine invited her to take part in the first ever sanctioned women Mixed Martial Arts bout in Nevada by fighting against Leiticia Pestova. Carano registered a remarkable win in the first round within 38 seconds.
In the World Pro Fighting show in Las Vegas on 15 September 2006, she knocked Rosi Sexton out in the last seconds of the second round. She won a jaw dropping fight over Elaina Maxwell on 8 December 2006 at the first Strikeforce: Triple Threat female fight. In the following year, she appeared in the reality show ‘Fight Girls’ as a mentor and won millions of hearts for her amazing work.
On 10 February 2007, in the first televised female fight on Showtime, she knocked Julie Kedzie flat in the second round. This roaring brawl was called as ‘Fight of the Night’ in which the fans applauded for both women by giving them standing ovation.
In September 2007, she won the fight against wrestling champion Tonya Evinger by using submission for the first time, through a rear naked choke. In May 2008, she defeated Kaitlin Young at EliteXC: Primetime. She had forfeited 12.5% of her “show” purse to Young to keep the fight on card since Gina failed to make it to the EliteXC’s weight criteria of 140 lb.
The following year she starred as ‘Crush’ in the TV show ‘American Gladiators’ in NBC which won her more followers. She also appeared in ‘Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3’, a video game, acting as a Soviet commando and sniper, ‘Natasha Volkova’.
In October 2008, she stripped off at the weigh-in and successfully made it to 141 pounds to fight against Kelly Kobold. She defeated Kobold unleashing powerful kicks and blows which ultimately caused a deep gash over Kobold’s right eye. Carano won unanimously and dedicated this victory to her grandfather.
In 2009, she did a cameo in ‘Blood and Bone’, a film by Michael Jai White. She also graced the cover of ‘ESPN The Magazine - The Body Issue’ posing topless and invoking criticism.
On 15 August 2009, the biggest fight occurred in the history of Women’s MMA amidst approximately 14,000 viewers in San Jose, California which brought about the end of Carano’s MMA career. At Strikeforce’s first Women’s Championship, Brazilian fighter Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos defeated Carano in the first round. Through this fight, Carano also became the first female fighter who earned $100,000 for a single fight.
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According to the Unified Women’s MMA rankings, she was the world number 3 in the 145 lb. category. After her heart-breaking loss to Cyborg, Gina never returned to the ring. Following her MMA career, she acted in ‘Fast and Furious’ (2013), ‘In The Blood’ (2014), and ‘Dreadpool’ (2016).
Awards & Achievements
Gina Carano was crowned ‘The Face of Women’s MMA’ due to her skyrocketing popularity which she rejected politely. ‘Big Biz Magazine’ voted her as the ‘Hottest Woman In America’ in their Spring 2008 issue.
She became the fastest-rising most-searched personality on Google and on Yahoo, placed as the third most searched as per 13 May 2008. Yahoo also ranked her fifth on their list of ‘Top Ten Influential Women of 2008’. She was ranked 16 in the list of Hot 100 in ‘Maxim’ in May 2009.
She received ActionFest’s first ‘Chuck Norris Award’ as the year’s best female action star in April 2012. She also received ‘Awakening Outstanding Contribution Award’ in the same year.
For ‘Haywire’ she was nominated for the ‘Critics Choice Awards’ in the best actress criteria in 2013. She was also in the top 10 most searched athletes as per Yahoo in the same year.
Gina Carano dated ‘Man of Steel’ actor Henry Cavill for two years from September 2012. Currently she is reported to in a relationship with Kevin Ross since June 2015. Gina and Kevin were in a relationship previously for four long years and separated for almost a decade before getting back again.
During her fighting career, she was often humiliated and ridiculed openly for her good looks. Critics doubted on her talents, and claimed that she was entertained with preferential treatments and that she misused her striking looks to get ahead in her career. She always remained poised and gracefully let her work answer the taunts.
Her net worth is estimated to be $4 million.
Gina Carano performs her movie stunts on her own.
She appeared in the episode ‘Unbound’ of ‘Almost Human’, a Fox series (2013-14) portraying a combat android called ‘Danica’.