Unlikely Connection Takes a Local Boxer to the Australian Open

Published 01/14 2014 10:44PM

Updated 01/14 2014 11:26PM

(MELBOURNE, Australia) Travis Hartman has spent time outside of the United States during his time as a professional boxer. But his first trip to Australia has him supporting his girlfriend who he met in the most unlikely way.

"You wouldn't ever think of it. It's rare to hear stories like that. Especially when we didn't talk for three years," Irina Falconi said of her relationship with Hartman.

Hartman was working as a sports reporter covering an event at the Noyes Tennis Courts in St. Joseph when he first met Falconi in 2009.

"I was sent there to cover a girl named Coco Vandeweghe actually, and Irina upset Coco Vandeweghe in the first round," Hartman said. "Three years later, she won a match in a tournament and I wrote on her Facebook wall and I said congratulations."

Despite not seeing each other for three years, that connection sparked a relationship between the two with many nights spent talking to each other on Facebook and Skype. So after competing in Wimbledon, Falconi made a visit to Hartman's hometown of Osborn.

"She came from London to population 400," Hartman said.

"I remember telling my mom that I was going to go meet this guy in Missouri," Falconi recalled. "You can just imagine how thrilled she was to hear that."

While he's supporting his girlfriend, the trip to Australia's also benefiting Hartman's boxing career.

World title contender Jarrod Fletcher reached out to him, and even made and offer to have Hartman fight in Brisbane, Australia January 29th.

"We're still kind of negotiating," Hartman said. "And honestly right now, I'm not too worried about it, because she's got this going on right now and I'm 100-percent here in Melbourne for her."

It's a long journey for the Osborn native from watching Falconi at the Noyes Courts, to now competing against the best in the world.

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