Harry Garside has had plenty of time to sit and ponder life outside of the boxing ring after suffering a nightmare injury to his hand.
The supremely talented Aussie boxer has faced the longest delay in his booming career, spending months unable to even throw a punch.
Having grown up in the working class town of Lilydale, Victoria, Garside picked up the gloves at nine years old and from that moment he was hooked.
He quickly fell in love with the sport and threw everything he had into it. While still extremely young in his professional career, the tough as nails plumber has already captured a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and secured bronze during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
His star is shining bright and once his hand has healed, he’s got his eyes on taking on anybody who will step into the ring with him.
But Garside’s life isn’t that of your normal boxer. Yes he trains harder than your average gym-goer and has more drive than a V8 commodore, but outside of the ring he is an entirely different man.
Garside is uniquely one thing, himself.
In a day and age that often ends with anybody not conforming to what society deems the norm being brought back to Earth, Garside is punching down those barriers and showing to younger generations you should never back down from letting your own light shine.
Of all the battles he has fought inside of the ring where he showcases his boxing prowess and unbelievable heart, it’s outside where he is fighting the bigger fight.
At the age of 16 he began questioning everything about himself and life in general and over the years the pondering hasn’t stopped. But the biggest question of all that drives him forward is working out what his true purpose in life is.
“I think probably since the Olympics it’s finding purpose to be completely honest and I’m a man who strives for things and I’m constantly pondering things but because it’s so present I’d probably say that,” Garside said to news.com.au.
“Prior to the Olympics my purpose was all my childhood dream. I knew what it was and I put everything I had into focusing on that. Very I, I, I, very self focused.
“Post the Olympics I was tossing up whether I’m going to go to the next Olympics and what’s the go with my boxing and all this sort of stuff was happening.
“I think just trying to find purpose that’s bigger than me. Ben Crow, Ash Barty’s mindset coach, has a great saying, ‘It’s life’s biggest truism that life isn’t about us it’s about the impact we can have on others’.
“I’m in the process now of trying to work out a purpose that’s bigger than myself, you know the Olympic dream was great but at the same time I think I’m at the age now where you have to start making things not about you and I’m in that now trying to work out what I believe my purpose is.”
Blunt answer to anybody who ridicules unique fashion
Garside isn’t afraid to step out into the limelight in a skirt or walk down the runway of a fashion show.
He understands his way of life isn’t that of what many consider to be the norm, but he isn’t going to back down from showing off who he truly is. A lesson he has learnt over the years and one he hopes will be passed onto younger generations in the hope they aren’t afraid to show off their true colours.
“I’m not perfect that’s for sure I try my best not to read the comments as much as possible, sometimes it’s inevitable,” 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?
“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.
“I think you realise as an adult having different uniqueness is actually a superpower, but when you’re younger you feel this need to conform. I felt that throughout my childhood, this need to not want to be too different or else you’re going to get isolated.
“But what I’ve realised the older I get is the more unique and special and different you are it’s a bit of a superpower in your adult years so I just want to try and show young people that it’s actually beautiful to walk in your own essence and try things. Even if it’s not your calling, try things because you never know what your calling is until you try it, I’m just trying to encourage young people to do that.”
While many have pointed the finger of Garside’s style akin to that of Harry Styles, he credits the Reach Foundation for giving him the empowerment to show off who he truly is.
“I’m a boy from Lilydale end of the line town working class, I’m trying to prove to everyone that I’m a man and acting like a bit of a jock I guess,” he said.
“And then these people show up to school and they’re wearing the most unique strange clothes, they’re acting funny, they’ve got the weirdest haircuts and they’re just walking in their essence.
“They ran us through a workshop that day and just showing their true colours and their uniqueness I guess. And I think that’s probably the first inspiration from it and from then it has just grown and blossomed and turned into this weird beast that is here now and I guess I’m just on it for the ride.”
Garside is currently in training for a half-ironman, a far cry from his boxing endeavours. But with his hand having been wrapped in cotton wool, he’s eyeing off a return to the squared circle in February-March next year. From there he’s eyeing off the world and a move to either Europe or America in the latter half of 2023.
Garside feels sorry for mom
When he’s inside the ring, Garside is a caged animal who never gives an inch and won’t go down without giving everything he has to offer.
The notion of where his drive and mindset came from popped into his mind recently and although he grew up the youngest of three boys, his drive comes from his parents.
“Waking up every morning and seeing my dad not there, he was already at work as a roof tiler and then I’d get home at about 6:30 and he’d just be getting home,” he said.
“I saw that and I saw the meaning of hard work. And then my mum getting us three rebellious boys ready for school and taking us to sport.
“I was definitely the best one, my two older brothers, I tell you what they were hard work so I feel sorry for me mom.”
Garside recently melted hearts on social media when he uploaded a video of him reading a letter he had written to his dad.
The letter, an ode to the man Garside calls his superhero, was for fathers day and expressed just how much he meant to him.
Garside is one of 10 nominees for the 2022 GQ Men of the Year Awards in association with BOSS.
Some of the biggest names in Aussie sport sit on the list with Garside just happy to be mentioned alongside the stars.
“I think I’m at the bottom of the pack. I’m very grateful to be nominated. There’s some huge names on there from Bam Bam (Tai Tuivasa) to Pat Cummins who is one of my favourites.
“I think my chances are quite minimal but at the same time very grateful to chuck on a full black tie which I haven’t done for many years. Mum will be so proud.”
Of course when asked if his look on the night would be that of a normal black suit and tie, Garside played the cards close to his chest.
Cast your vote for the 2022 GQ Men of the Year Awards.