Harry Garside rose to prominence after winning Australia’s first Olympic boxing medal in 33 years at the Tokyo Games.
It wasn’t just that historic bronze, but his painted nails and passion for ballet that won over so many different fans.
“It’s been pretty crazy since the Olympics last year,” Garside said.
The 24-year-old doesn’t shy away from challenges.
Just one month after claiming the Australian lightweight title in his second professional bout with a unanimous decision over Manuer Matet in Sydney, Garside is gearing up for his next fight.
“It’s a quick turnaround. Not many fighters are doing it these days, but I’m pretty old school with my belief and the way I train,” he said.
Having moved to 2-0 in his professional career, his next opponent is Tasmanian Layton McFerran (5-1) on May 11 at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
“I don’t know too much about him and have struggled to find footage of him, but he’s only lost one of his six fights,” Garside said.
“He is as tough as nails and he’s coming to win.”
Eyeing a future world title
Garside’s triumph over Matet was the first time he fought past three rounds.
It was a test of mental endurance as much as physical, and one Garside embraces, as he dreams of one day winning a world title.
“I remember getting to round eight and thinking ‘I wish I could sit down’, but it felt good, and I was really excited to go 10 rounds,” he said.
Garside and Nikita Tszyu are both featured on the undercard of the main event between Paul Gallen (12-1-1) and Kris Terzievski (10-1-1) on Wednesday.
Tszyu (1-0), the youngest son of former world champion Kostya and brother to world-ranked Tim, will face Melbourne’s Mason Smith (5-0).
Former NRL star Gallen and fellow Australian heavyweight Terzievski will be aiming to create Australian boxing history, with the winner to be crowned with dual titles for the first time in more than 100 years.
Garside credits Gallen for what he has done for the sport of boxing and providing young fighters like himself a platform.
He said he could not wait to fight under Gallen.
“The best thing I love about Paul Gallen is what you see is what you get,” Garside said.
“He speaks his mind, he’s unapologetically Paul Gallen.”
The ballet boxers
Garside has an unassuming confidence and the former plumber from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs is proudest for being known as the ballet dancing boxer.
The youngest of three boys, Garside wanted to do ballet and dance for many years but was too afraid to tell his dad and older brothers.
“I finally built up the courage in 2019 to start ballet and I absolutely love it,” he said.
“It’s helped my boxing heaps and one day when I’m good enough I will do a performance for sure.”
While Garside can pack a pirouette as well as he does a punch, he wants to be known as more than just a boxer.
Over the past two years, he has been focused on separating his boxing persona from his authentic self.
“At the end of my life, I want to be remembered as a good person, rather than a good boxer.”
A role model for the next generation
Sporting nails painted with different colours, Garside’s mission to break gender stereotypes came from his own struggles and he hopes it inspires young people to embrace their quirks.
“There were so many things pushed on me when I was growing up about how I was supposed to act,” he said.
Garside credits the Reach foundation, a youth not-for-profit organization aimed at building social and emotional development, for giving him the courage to be comfortable in his own skin.
“They came to my school when I was 16 years old,” he said.
“My involvement with them took me on a journey where I learned to love myself — the good, the bad and ugly.”
One of his life goals is to get combat sports integrated into the school system.
While boxing may be high risk, Garside believes lower-impact versions, such as judo and jiu-jitsu, could be suitable alternatives.
“I remember as a young person going through a lot between the ages of 10 to 18 years,” he said.
“The body is changing, there are so many emotions running through your body and you’re feeling things for the first time.”
Physical benefits aside, Garside said such sports could teach young people other valuable life lessons, such as discipline, respect, confidence and self-love.
Attributes Garside now has an abundance of.