Gina Joy Carano was born under a tornado warning in Dallas, Texas, to parents Dana Joy (Cason) and Glenn Thomas Carano. Her father played for the Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys as a backup quarterback for Roger Staubach and Danny White from 1977-1983. In 1984, he was the starting quarterback for the USFL Pittsburgh Maulers. Gina's parents divorced when she was a child, but her father remained involved in her upbringing and is her biggest fan. Gina is of three sixteenths Italian descent, and her other roots include English, Scottish, Dutch, and German.The middle child of three close-knit girls, Casey being a year older and Christie, the youngest, Gina is their self-proclaimed bodyguard and highly protective of them. All three girls were star athletes in high school. Growing up in Las Vegas, Gina, a natural born athlete and rambunctious tomboy, studied gymnastics, jazz, tap, ballet, rode horses, whooped up on her male cousins for fun at family gatherings, and wrestled and played football with the neighborhood boys. She graduated from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she excelled in the volleyball, softball and basketball teams, the latter she helped secure a state title. Her collegiate studies include the University of Nevada, Reno where she attended one year, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for three where she was offered positions on both the softball and basketball teams. Her academic goal was a degree in psychology, but with only a few credits remaining she dropped everything in order to help her older sister through a crisis. At the age of 21, Gina began training in Muay Thai, a form of Kickboxing, with Master Toddy at the suggestion of then boyfriend Kevin Ross. In pursuit of a life-changing experience he ended up at a local Las Vegas Muay Thai Gym and she tagged along. A trainer approached her, telling her point blank that she was fat and needed to lose weight. She weighed around 175 lbs. and had no direction at that point in her life. She began training and became addicted. Master Toddy saw potential in the way Gina handled herself. She took naturally to fighting with strong punches, deadly elbows and knees, a impressive overhand right, and rib-cracking hard kicks. Immersing herself completely in the sport, she advanced quickly. Months later she found herself in a "fight club" situation in San Francisco where she took on any female fighter plopped down in front of her. Since then, she hasn't looked back.Initially, because of her pretty face, spectators refused to take her seriously as a fighter. It is a bias that has haunted her throughout her fighting career. Gina, who is openly laughed at, insulted, and ridiculed in front of crowds before fights, realizes she will have to cowgirl up in order to silence her taunters and she lets her fists do the talking. Her Muay Thai career is comprised of an impressive 12 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw and she becomes the first American woman to win a title in Thailand. The 2005 cult film Ring Girls (2005) follows Gina and her trainer, Master Toddy during her early Muay Thai career. Because of her beauty, spunk, and tenacity she developed a significant fan following. In June 2006, Gina's success in Muay Thai brings her to the attention of Jamie Levine of World Extreme Fighting in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. He offers her a fight against Leiticia Pestova who holds a MMA record of 11 wins and 2 losses. It is to be the first-ever sanctioned female MMA bout in the state of Nevada. Levine is impressed with Gina's statuesque size. Standing at 5'8" and 155 lbs., which is the starting weight class for men, she isn't a frail little girl and has power in her kicks comparable to a man. Still in its infancy, and because of its vicious nature, a lot of people were teetering on the fence about women fighting in MMA. Levine believed gender didn't matter and he wanted to give the two women a nationwide platform to show what they could do. Gina, under the moniker "Conviction", trained relentlessly for the history-making bout, weighing in at a muscular 135 pounds. She does not disappoint her fans, winning the fight in explosive ground-and-pound action in the 38th second of the first round. Critics begin to whine that Gina is receiving preferential treatment based on her striking good looks and that her talents as a fighter are less than stellar. She uses these criticisms as fuel for her next bout against British fighter Rosi Sexton. in September 15, 2006. Sexton, a cerebral fighter with a mathematics degree from Cambridge and over 10 years of martial arts experience, possesses a 6-0 MMA record. Many believe Carano will go down in flames but, with six seconds left to go in the second round, Gina knocks Sexton out with a jaw dropping and show stopping overhand right. In December 2006, she faced Elaina Maxwell in what was their second fight against each other, the first time being in a Muay Thai bout. The fight went 3 rounds and showcased Gina's powerful overhand right and improved grappling skills. She won the unanimous decision.February 10, 2007 -- In what is billed the "Fight of the Night" and the first televised female fight on Showtime, she faced Julie Kedzie. Kedzie, who was once arrested with a group of 300 nuns at a protest, is a feisty brawler known for overpowering her opponents in the clench. She has a record of 8 wins and 4 losses. The exciting fight, an amazing stand-up brawl, goes the distance with Gina knocking Kedzie flat at the end of the second round. Kedzie, a scrappy fighter, refused to give in, taking Carano down in the third round in a submission attempt. Carano rallied, winning the unanimous decision. The appreciative crowd gave both fighters a roaring standing ovation. Julie and Gina became training partners and good friends and remain so to this day. Gina's popularity skyrockets and she is crowned "The Face of Women's MMA" a title she doesn't particularly care for since it detracts from other women in the sport. Her image is everywhere. Critics, some of them other female fighters, complain that she is using sex appeal to further her career, that she is compensating for something she is lacking in the ring, that what she is doing is disrespectful to the sport, but fans can't seem to get enough of the imposing brunette. Men fall in love with her. Little girls and women find her an inspirational combination of beauty, strength, and power. Everyone is taken in by her shy smile and laid back, good-natured personality. Gina, who believes the image of a powerful, feminine woman is something to be celebrated, is baffled by the criticisms and humbled by the attention and support from her fans. She wins her next two fights -- In September 2007 against Tonya Evinger, a wrestling champion, via rear naked choke -- Gina's first submission -- and in May 2008 against Kaitlin Young although Gina had to forfeit a little over 12% of the purse to keep the fight on the card. She failed to make EliteXC's newly created 140 lb. weight class. Most MMA organizations have the featherweight division at 145 lbs. (65.8 kg.) Coming into the fight with only a three-week training camp, Carano weighed in at 144.5 lbs. (65.5 kg.) In spite of everyone's dire predictions, she dominates and the fight is stopped at the end of the second round. Gina wins by TKO. June 2008. More criticism : A sportswriter reporting on the Carano vs. Young fight voices his suspicion that Gina's opponents must be handpicked to make sure of the outcome and that she is too pretty to fight. He finds women fighting in the MMA an unpleasant experience but concludes that she is quite the asset. 2008 -- Gina reluctantly joins the cast of American Gladiators (2008). She had reservations about running around in itty-bitty superhero spandex, but the show's producers pursued her and finally convinced her to sign on. She becomes known as "Crush" and cultivates a whole new fan base. She also appears as "Natasha", a Soviet Commando and Sniper, in the video game "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3". MMA Legend Randy Couture, who Gina trains with, also appears. Critics are oddly silent on Couture 'going Hollywood', using his sex appeal, or being 'too pretty' to be in the video game. October 2008 -- Gina causes an unintentional frenzy at the weigh-in for the fight against Kelly Kobold. She has only fought once in the past year and there is speculation that she will not be able to make weight. Gina had hired a nutritionist to help with her diet, but at the weigh-in, she failed to make weight on her first two attempts. Gina, who has stated she will never pose naked for "Playboy" or any publication, boldly strips off all her clothes for the third attempt. Photographers shoved and tripped over each other trying to obtain the Holy Grail of photos, a bare naked Gina Carano. Severely dehydrated and towel-shielded from the cameras, she successfully makes weight at 141 pounds. Her father is one of the men holding up towels. October 5, 2008 -- With a 16-2-1 record, 6 wins by knockout and 8 by submission, Kelly Kobold vows to make Gina Carano the broken, bruised and bloodied face of MMA. Instead, it is Gina who bloodied Kobold's face with a severe gash over the right eye. Gina unleashed killer kicks and knees and wins the fight. She remained undefeated and lovingly dedicated the win to her grandfather. 2009 --She and fellow MMA athletes Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson and Maurice Smith dabbled in the Hollywood scene with small but memorable cameos in the Michael Jai White film Blood and Bone (2009). Gina also appears on the cover of "ESPN The Magazine - The Body Issue". Posing mostly topless she shows off an impressive set of abdominals, amazing legs, and invokes more criticism. August 15, 2009 -- Gina makes history again by becoming the first female fighter to earn $100,000 for a fight. She faced Brazilian Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos in the first Women's Championship. The championship was scheduled for 5 rounds, each lasted 5 minutes -- Another first. In a hard fought battle, she loses in a heartbreaker by TKO at the bell at the end of the first round. But on January 6, 2012, revelations come to light. The California State Athletic Commission announced that Santos had tested positive for steroids after a December 2011 fight. It throws suspicion on the legitimacy of all of Cyborg's wins, including her win against Gina. Cyborg is suspended for one year, received a $2,500 fine. Gina, though hurt and disappointed, remained gracious and supportive of her sister fighter. A Carano vs. Cyborg rematch would be a huge MMA event but it is unlikely that Gina will ever return to the sport that made her a superstar. Classified by the Unified Women's MMA Rankings as the third best 145 lb (66 kg.) female fighter in the world, her current MMA record stands at 7 wins and 1 loss.It was after that devastating loss, black eye and all, that a deflated Gina met with Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh for lunch in San Diego. He had seen her fight earlier on CBS and dreamed of building a film around her. Immediately he was struck with her presence and intriguing mix of muscular power and eye-catching femininity. Inspired, he wrote the role of Mallory Kane specifically for her although she is nothing like the unsmiling, structured, alpha female character. Soderbergh assembled an impressive cast and all heaped praise on the fighter and aspiring actress. Channing Tatum, a huge fan of Gina's and the MMA, immediately signed on when he learned she was involved in the project. Ewan McGregor, having no clue who Gina Carano was, studied many of her fights on YouTube. Initially horrified by the violence of the sport, he with met with her and was taken with how quiet, gentle and thoughtful she was out of the ring. He recalls hurting his hand when he accidentally punched Gina in the head during the film's final climatic fight scene. Gina, completely unaffected by the punch and worried she had injured the actor, immediately popped to her feet and asked if he was okay. Antonio Banderas found Gina to be beautiful, natural and real and believes she has a career in front of her. Michael Fassbender, who Gina now considers a mentor, thought her extraordinary and was impressed with her work ethic. Michael Douglas, who topped out the A-list cast, heralded Gina's self-control.Gina is proud to have been a pioneer in Women's MMA, for kicking down barriers and inspiring and paving the way for the next wave of female fighters. She recently joined the 87Eleven Stunt team, the same team that propelled her to star status with their work on Haywire (2011). With film projects like Furious 6 (2013), In the Blood (2014) and rumors of Wonder Woman flying around, Gina Carano has found her niche in the Action Heroine film market. Her newest challenge as an athlete -- To cross over into film successfully.