Australian boxing champion Harry Garside's sporting future is uncertain after legendary trainer Johnny Lewis opted to abruptly dump the 25-year-old fighter. Garside shot to prominence with a brilliant performance at the Tokyo Olympics, which earned him the bronze medal.
Garside turned pro soon after the Olympics, and has won his first three fights. But an injury in his last bout appears to have derailed his boxing career for the time being.
Having not fought since his hand injury last May, Lewis and other heavyweights in the Australian boxing scene had hoped Garside would be prepared to take the next step in his career in 2023. Garside seems intent on doing just that - but not in the boxing ring.
Lewis has reportedly walked away from training Garside after the 25-year-old opted to participate in the upcoming season of Channel 10 reality program, 'I'm A Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here'. No Limit, the promoting body that boasts Garside alongside other top boxers such as Tim and Nikita Tszyu, Sam Goodman and Paulo Aokuso, had been hopeful Garside would headline a main event in Melbourne, set to be held sometime in March.
Instead, their fighter will be overseas as he films the reality show, leaving Lewis unimpressed. He was disappointed in the hugely talented fighter's decision, believing he has much more to offer the boxing world.
“The ingredients for being a world champion are hard work and commitment,” Lewis told the Daily Telegraph. “You can’t keep knocking back fights. There are no shortcuts in the fight game.
“All my great fighters from over the years were 100 per cent disciplined and dedicated to boxing. We’d been talking to Harry about world titles and greatness. I’m actually really disappointed but I genuinely wish him well although I’m not sure that he’s choosing the right path.”
Harry Garside's boxing future unclear after reality TV decision
Garside, who won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, has always done things a bit differently. That is also the case when it comes to training. He says that he always wanted to try ballet anyway, but he also thinks it makes him a better boxer.
On his leg he has a tattoo of Vasiliy Lomachenko, the Ukrainian considered one of the world's best pound-for-pound boxers. "He's my favourite fighter and he actually did a lot of traditional dancing, and a few other athletes do it (ballet) too," Garside told AFP.
"So I tried it out and fell in love with it almost instantly. It's really hard, it's really, really difficult. It's definitely helped me throughout my boxing with my footwork and technique. Coordination is obviously a big thing. I'm very stiff in the ring and I feel like it's loosened me up a little bit. I'll continue doing it even after boxing."
Garside has also built a substantial following for his various efforts to challenge gender stereotypes in sport, frequently painting his nails, as well as being comfortable appearing at fashion shows. He was nominated for the 2022 GQ Men of the Year Awards last year, telling News Corp that he wanted to inspire people to bring their own uniqueness to the table.
“I genuinely believe that as a society we should be supporting individuality and uniqueness and the herd supporting that rather than the herd supporting people who feel they need to conform and be like everyone else," he said.
“There is just some super negative trolls that hang around, but then there’s also the ones who genuinely ask me questions around ‘what impact are you having on young people’. I mean here I am wearing a skirt and am I confusing young people?”
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