Dai Gardiner

Dai Gardiner (b. 1941) is one of Wales’ most prominent boxing trainers and a man who will always, sadly, be associated with one of the most tragic nights in the country’s sporting history.

He was born in Bargoed, and his own professional record was squeezed into five welterweight fights in 1963, comprising four wins and one defeat.

As a coach he would be far more visible, working with fighters of the calibre of Neil Swain and Steve Robinson and gaining a reputation for matching his fighters hard.

Most famously, he guided Johnny Owen through his professional career, all the way to his final, fatal fight against Lupe Pintor.

Gardiner remembered the night in a moving 2010 BBC interview to mark the 30-year anniversary of Owen’s demise.

“[Owen] trained very hard [in America], he was very confident, everything went fine,” remembered Gardiner. “He had won British, European and Commonwealth titles – he was ready for a world shot…

“There were a lot of Mexicans in the auditorium, they gave us problems, it was jam-packed there. But Johnny was very professional, took it in his stride and started very well.

“Up to the eighth round everything was going really well, the American promoters were getting worried.

“Johnny looked so frail, they hadn’t even thought he could fight.

“In the ninth he got caught and went down for the first time in his career. I was worried, but in the corner Johnny wondered what all the fuss was about.

“He was bleeding very badly from his lip from the fourth round, but we didn’t think there was any trouble. I couldn’t have stopped the fight because it was going so well.

“The 10th and 11th went very well, then the disaster struck in the 12th. I knew it was bad straight away, he just crumbled.

“The Mexican crowd showered us with drink and everything else, they took all our equipment from the corner… [but] they didn’t realise how bad it was.

“I carry Johnny in my heart all the time, I always think of that fight. Every year around the time of the anniversary I go up to his grave.”

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3 Responses to Dai Gardiner

  1. Crazee Col January 28, 2015 at 1:02 am #

    Quite strange how the incredibly talented and absolutely wonderful to watch British, European, and two weight World Champion Robbie Regan isn’t mentioned here. Yet Neil Swayne is.

  2. Dav October 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Robbie Regan should be on here! No doubt about it

  3. Paul keers June 11, 2017 at 9:27 pm #

    Johnny owen sadly missed by paul keers ex boxer from hartlepool who fought and won Wayne Evans then got a phone call to ask if I would go and train with Johnny owen I said yes I trained with Johnny Owen and what a very fit man he was 15 mile run a morning up and down mountains 2 mile up hill backwards I will never forget him I am planning to good go back to pay respects and lay flowers he wanted me to go back and train with him but I had to train for a fight Johnny Owen was a fantastic fighter and gentleman

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