Jeannine the Machine is headed to the Hall of Fame.
Almost 10 years to the day since she made her professional boxing debut, Duncan-born-and-raised Jeannine Garside got the call on Dec. 1 that she will be part of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
"It’s awesome," she said. "It’s the icing on the cake. I’m grateful for the experience that I had, and reliving that puts a big smile on my face."
Garside began boxing in the late 1990’s. After a stellar amateur career, in which she went 40-5 and won four national championships, she made her pro debut on Dec. 4, 2004. Her pro career saw her go 10-3-1 over six years, capping her career in 2010 with a win over Germany’s Ina Menzer for the WBC featherweight title.
"I strove and strove and strove for the opportunity to fight in Germany," she recalled. "There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but I learned from them and I was ready to win that fight when I got there. It was a miraculous experience."
Garside’s career included two fights in her hometown. On June 6, 2009 at the Island Savings Centre, she won an eight-round unanimous decision over Dominga Olivo of New York for the WBC International featherweight title. On April 24, 2010 at Fuller Lake Arena, she TKO’d Lindsay Garbatt of Oshawa, Ontario in the third round of a scheduled 10-round fight, reclaiming the vacant WIBA featherweight title.
"That fight that [promoter Wally Petrovic] put together is what allowed me to fight in Germany," she said, noting that the WIBA ranked her No. 1 in the world after beating Garbatt, something the German boxing community took umbrage with.
Garside will be among eight inductees to the Hall of Fame, including six boxers from the modern era of women’s boxing. Among her fellow inductees is Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali and one of the biggest names in women’s boxing.
"I hope it draws more attention to the sport," she said. "I hope boxing stays strong."
Also in the group is Laura Serrano, who Garside won a unanimous decision against in 2006, the first time she won the WIBA belt.
"I’m looking forward to being there with women that were once my competitors and are now my comrades," she said.
The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place in Florida in July, five years to the month since her last fight. She has already fielded calls from many family and friends who want to be there, including her No. 1 fan, her father, Allan Garside.
"He always has been and always will be my biggest fan," she said.
Garside was inducted into the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame in 2010, and has always appreciated the support from her hometown. She hopes to move back to the Cowichan Valley eventually.
"They never forgot me," she said. "They always have my back. My heart is in Duncan. Going back there is always in the big picture."
Today, Garside lives in Windsor, Ontario with her husband, former national silver medallist Dave Larkin and her 11-year-old daughter and two-and-a-half-year-old son, who loves to dig through his mom’s cabinet and try on the gloves she has saved from some of her bouts. She misses boxing, but is glad to be able to spend time with her family.
"That’s what I was all about: the passion and the glory," she recalled. "And I got to experience it. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about the sacrifice. Watching people that you love fight isn’t easy. I want my kids to box, but I don’t want to be tortured by it."
Garside still dreams about going back in the ring, although being inducted into the Hall of Fame puts something of a cap on her career.
"I never said the words officially that I retired," she said. "I found that too hard to say. But I felt I reached my goal and I was ready to let go."
Now, she wants to inspire a new generation, whether they want to go into boxing or pursue other interests.
"I always say, ‘if you believe in yourself, the rest will follow,’" she said. "If someone says no to you, break down that door."