28/02/2024

Harry Garside won Olympic bronze at Tokyo. (Photo: Harry Garside/Facebook)

Olympic bronze medallist Harry Garside has a powerful message for young Australians struggling with their identity, as he himself continues to fight struggles of his own.

Australian lightweight Olympic bronze medallist Harry Garside is a man who’s passionate about standing out.

He’s not arrogant at all however, anything but. Garside famously spoke tearfully to the Australian public after claiming Olympic bronze about how he felt as though he’d let us down.

Golden in the hearts of a nation, Australians couldn’t be prouder of him.

Outside of the ring, he’s selfless and giving. Stuck in a hotel room for two weeks of quarantine up in Queensland after returning from Tokyo, he chose to watch back the Olympic events he missed in favour of anything else, supporting his fellow Aussies.

Flying home, he gave up his first class flight seat to coach Kevin Smith, acknowledging the hard work and sacrifice that he’d put in to get to Tokyo.

“He’s a great man, and he deserves that completely,” Garside told Yarra Valley FM’s The Sport.

“That was his first time in business! He’s done a lot for me and my growth.

“My main coach who’s from Lilydale, Brian Levier, he’s 79 this year. He doesn’t come interstate or overseas with me… [Smith] looks after me while I’m away.

“Both of them have really crafted me into the man I am now, not just as a boxer, but as a human.”

Garside at 18 with coach Brian Levier. (Photo: Victoria Stone-Meadows)

Garside is a man who’s not afraid to show vulnerability, and challenge stereotypes of what a man is.

He recently opened up on his older brother, talking to The Man Cave about how his sibling has recently been sent to jail for the eighth time, struggling mentally with addiction issues.

It’s raw, it’s emotional, but just like everything Garside does, it’s 100 per cent honest and authentic.

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It’s a full commitment to embracing this emotion and vulnerability that makes up Garside’s life ethos.

“Growing up, there were a couple of things pushed on me,” he said.

“‘You have to be this way because you’re a male, you have to be this way because your last name’s Garside.’

“I felt like society or my circle were pushing things on me. Maybe they weren’t aware, but I felt that. It almost felt like a little bit inauthentic when I was doing things, it didn’t feel like the true me.

“I’m trying to understand myself more and express myself however I see fit. [I want] to get the message across to young people that you can literally be whatever you want to me.

“If that means being different and breaking the grain and being different to your family and friends, then I encourage that. I’d rather someone be their true authentic selves, [rather] than be what other people want them to be.

“That’s what I’m trying to advocate for, I was a completely different person growing up. I hope people see through my journey that I’m trying and I’m growing and I’m trying to be a better human.”

One of the ways that Garside tries to make that societal change is through the Reach Foundation.

Reach is an organisation founded by Paul Currie and late Melbourne Demons legend Jim Stynes which seeks to help put young people on the right path.

It was a school visit from Stynes representing the foundation that put the idea in a young Garside’s mind that this is something that he would to try and do.

Now Garside volunteers a mentor to help empower young boys and girls to be their authentic selves, and represent themselves as truly as they can regardless of gender stereotypes or their backgrounds.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

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