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.

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