Each of Harry Garside's fingernails was painted white, with a sliver of color that appeared to represent a rainbow.
The Olympics has historically reinforced gender binaries and in a small but refreshing precedent will be more inclusive this time around. According to PBS, trans non-binary athlete Canadian soccer player Quinn and New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history at the Olympics this year.
While there are still a lot of issues to be resolved, there are also those breaking stereotypes of what it means to be an athlete in a binary category. Olympic boxing champion Harry Garside, who won bronze in the lightweight division, is challenging what it means to be a conventional boxer. After his victory in the semi-final against Kazakhstan's Zakir Safiullin, Garside took off his boxing gloves to show off his fingernails. Each of his fingernails was painted white, with a sliver of color that appeared to represent a rainbow.
The ballet-loving Olympic boxer 'breaking stereotypes'.— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 5, 2021
Australia's first #Olympics boxing medallist in 33 years, Harry Garside, says he "fell in love" with ballet and sported painted fingernails this week in Tokyohttps://t.co/RFnDwmt7wM pic.twitter.com/X4lcHgfnq1
"There's a lot of people out there who feel like they have to be something because they're a male or a female," Garside said. "I'm all about just being different. I just want to break stereotypes, to be honest." He even revealed his plans of wearing a dress to the opening ceremony but did not go through with it because he "didn't want to offend anyone" and added, “Some people might take it the wrong way, so this is my way of showcasing something.”
The 24-year-old boxer wears multiple hats. In addition to boxing, he revealed that he loves ballet. This paints a new image of the sport that is considered to be the epitome of masculinity. He told AFP that he fell in love with ballet and how it has helped him in the ring as well. He says his inspiration for trying out the dance form was his hero, Vasiliy Lomachenko, the professional boxer and two-time Olympic gold medallist from Ukraine. He even has a tattoo of Lomachenko on his leg.
"He's my favorite fighter and he actually did a lot of traditional dancing, and a few other athletes do it (ballet) too," Garside stated. "So I tried it out and fell in love with it almost instantly. It's really hard, it's really, really difficult." He went on to explain, "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." The Guardian reported him saying: “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. Ballet’s very tough, the power through the legs that they generate, the coordination, everything is just so extreme.”
His mother Kate Garside told The Sydney Morning Herald, “His statement about his fingernails and wearing a dress was to shine a light on the fact that we should stop pigeonholing people and that we want to break down stereotypes." Talking about how her son came to love boxing she shared it was probably because of his father Shaun’s collection of Rocky DVDs. “Harry used to sit down and watch them all the time," she said. "He says it’s because he wanted to match it with his older brothers Josh and Jack, but we think it came from the Rocky films.”
Garside is also a certified plumber and takes up volunteering in his free time. "I do something once a month that makes me feel uncomfortable," said Garside about how he likes to keep improving himself. "I've done things like karaoke, public reading was really tough, 48 hours without talking, numerous other things. I'll continue doing that because I feel that growth as a human and that carries on into my boxing."