Culture

Australia Loves Harry Garside, The Ballet-Dancing Plumber Who Just Made The Olympic Boxing Semis

Harry Garside has secured Australia its first boxing medal in 33 years, and did it with his nails painted rainbow in an attempt to "break stereotypes".

harry garside olympics

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It feels like every day a new Aussie representative at the Tokyo Olympics captures the heart of the nation.

It started with Gold medal-winning Ariarne Titmus and her unbelievably excited coach. Then we had Peter Bol, and his record-breaking run giving Australia its first spot in the men’s 800m in 53 years. And just yesterday, Woolies worker Riley Day stole the spotlight when she plugged her Instagram page in a post-run interview after it was revealed she still had no corporate sponsors.

But today, everyone’s obsessed with Harry Garside, a 24-year-old ballet-dancing plumber from Victoria who has guaranteed Australia an Olympic medal in boxing for the first time in 33 years — all while sporting painted nails that each showed a different colour of the rainbow.

Last night Garside was declared the winner of his quarter-final lightweight boxing match, against Kazakhstan’s Zakir Safiullin, by split decision. You can watch Garside’s emotional reaction to his match win, which we can’t paste in here for copyright reasons, here.

In his post-match interview, Garside explained that his painted nails were his attempt at “breaking stereotypes” for those who think people must act a certain way based on their gender.

“I got these today. I just want to break stereotypes, to be honest. I’m a big one for that,” Garside explained about his white nails with rainbow feature stripes. “There’s a lot of people out there who feel like they have to be something because they’re a male or a female.”

“I’m all about just being different,” the boxer continued. “I was going to wear a dress to the opening ceremony, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. I feel like some people might take it the wrong way, so this is my way of showcasing something.”

 

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A post shared by Harry Garside (@harry_garside)

Beyond Garside’s rainbow nails, all anyone can really focus on is the plumber’s ballet-dancing background and how it helped the 24-year-old get to where he is today.

As the ABC reports, Garside started taking ballet two years ago when his mother bought him some vouchers for a class. The boxer’s interest in ballet initially stemmed from seeing his hero, Olympic medalist Vasyl Lomachenko, incorporate dance in his matches to improve balance and footwork.

However, during his time mentoring at the Reach Foundation, Garside also found interest in combating the “macho” gender stereotype often seen in sports and saw that ballet was an easy way he could do that.

“I’m not going to lie, I’d always wanted to try ballet. I say I do it for boxing, but really, I have always wanted to dance,” Garside said. “Ballet’s very tough, the power through the legs that they generate, the coordination, everything is just so extreme.

“It’s my little advantage so you take what you can get.”

As Harry Garside enters the semi-final light boxing match on Friday, the boxer is guaranteed at least a bronze medal as both losing semi-finalist leave in tied 3rd place. The last time Australia took home an Olympic medal for boxing was during the Seoul Games, where Spike Cheney won silver.

But even with the plumber’s chance at a gold medal impressively being just two matches away, Garside has always asserted that he’s just an “ordinary bloke”.

After winning a gold medal during the Commonwealth Games in 2018, the boxer told reporters: “I’m just an ordinary bloke. I’m back plumbing, back on the shovel, and back with the boys.”


Photo Credit: Adam Davy / Getty Images