Andrew Gardiner weighed his boxing dreams and decided he needed more.
Weight, not dreams.
Gardiner, 21, wants to make Canada's national team and compete in the Olympics one day, so he's stepped up a weight class to help make it happen. Gardiner, who trains out of Crescentwood Boxing club, moved from middleweight (75 kilograms) to light heavyweight (81 kilograms) and feels like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
"I'm a lot stronger and I'm not cutting down as much. Last time at nationals (last January), I was losing up to eight or nine pounds each night before the weigh-ins so that took a lot out of me. That's not good for you," said Gardiner, who did not make the national team last year.
"Losing the weight before every fight, it was kind of taking the fun out of it. If you're not having fun doing it, there's not really any point in doing it.
"My goals are still the same. I'm still aiming for the Olympics right now and maybe go pro after that, we'll see. But the difference is, I'm having a lot more fun at it now."
Boxing fans can see Gardiner in action on home turf for the first time in over a year when he fights in the main event in the rescheduled St. Paddy's Day Punch-Up on Thursday, 8 p.m. at the Marlborough Hotel.
Gardiner will take on (Hurricane) Dennis Hogan of Dublin, Ireland's Grange Con Boxing Club in a 178-pound light heavyweight bout. The Irish fighter is here as part of a team of eight boxers who were scheduled to compete here back in March, but the card ended up being cancelled.
"When you're Irish, St. Paddy's Day can last all year," joked Stuart Sutherland, Gardiner's coach who is also arranging the bouts between the Manitoba fighters and their Irish counterparts.
Sutherland said the change in Gardiner has been mental as well as physical.
"It's been rejuvenating for him. He was miserable and he peaked out at 75 kgs. We could not do anything where we were building up any more muscle, because it would kill him to make weight," Sutherland said.
"We were at the end of the road, as far as his body was concerned, at 75 kg. Now that we've moved him up to 81, he's got all the room in the world. Andy's got a big frame so he can make himself into a big light heavyweight. He's already stronger and enjoying every day again."
Gardiner earned a gold medal in the light heavyweight division last month at a tournament called La Copa Romana in the Dominican Republic, a first major victory at his bigger size.
"When I was fighting a lot smaller, the last week before a fight I was trying to start losing the weight rather than focusing on training," Gardiner said, noting his training now includes components for strength and building muscle. "I still have to work on that. I was big for a middleweight but I'm not big for a light heavyweight, so I'm working on that."
Promoter Tony Condello, who also promotes UCW's mixed martial arts, said he became involved in this card because of the quality of competition.
"An amateur boxing card like this one, I like them better than the pros. These kids are fighting with their hearts," Condello said.
Fighting Irish in town to take
on local boxing talent
UCW is presenting a rescheduled amateur boxing card called St. Paddy's Day Punch-up on Thursday at the Marlborough Hotel, where there will be a 12-bout card featuring Manitoba fighters taking on fighters from Dublin, Ireland. The bouts were originally scheduled for last March.
The top seven bouts are:
"ö Main event - 178 pounds: Andrew Gardiner, Crescentwood vs. Dennis Hogan
"ö Female - 135 lbs: Melissa Susin, Crescentwood vs. Shanice Just
"ö 132 pounds: Hans Hasler, United vs. Ross Hikky
"ö 110 pounds: Jonathan Quinit, United vs. Martin McAnee
"ö 165 pounds: Alex Simard, Eastman vs. Darren Clark
"ö 132 pounds: Colton Easton vs. Darren Byrne
"ö 100 pounds: Matt Bone, United vs. Riccardo Pellegrini