Boxer and chef dies at pool
A charismatic grandfather suffered a fatal heart attack at an Auckland Council-run pool, despite the efforts of lifeguards.
Pippo Gardi was in the spa when he had a sudden heart attack, triggering an emergency response from lifeguards on duty at Panmure YMCA on July 12.
They rushed to his aid, grabbed the pool’s defibrillator and gave him CPR but were unable to save the 82-year-old.
Gardi’s son Dino praised the efforts of the lifeguards and ambulance staff who worked on him for half an hour.
The defibrillator was considered a vital piece of kit at the centre and has been installed at every pool managed by Auckland Council.
Dino Gardi said his father had been a regular gym visitor even in old age.
A migrant in the aftermath of WW2, Gardi left Sicily aged 14 and hopped on a boat he thought was headed for New York.
Instead he ended up in Perth and faked his documentation to set up a life for himself.
He moved to Sydney and became a boxer (nicknamed ‘Cyclone’) and later a boxing manager, which took him around the world.
He met a New Zealand woman, Maria, and moved to Auckland in 1968 to start a family.
Dino said his father was a beloved man who always enjoyed keeping busy with his gardening or cooking, or telling stories.
‘‘He was charismatic, very Italian, very energetic and couldn’t sit still, always on the move. We always said Dad had ants in his pants.’’
In the 1970s Gardi imported what was believed to be one of New Zealand’s first cappuccino machines.
However, customs had their suspicions and took six months to clear it and Gardi was horrified they took so long to let him have the machine.
‘‘He got it sent over from Italy. Customs I don’t think knew what it was, they thought it was a science experiment.’’
He set up Peppi’s Pizza in central Auckland in the 1990s with his son Marcello. He worked as a linesman for Telecom and a house painter, while maintaining his passion for gardening.
At his funeral service in Glendowie on July 16, Gardi was remembered as someone with a passion for life who loved history and travel.
Gardi is survived by three children Marina, Dino and Marcello and his five grandchildren.
Pippo Gardi and his son Dino.