Brad Hardman was just 15 when the car he was in wrapped itself around a telegraph pole, killing one and leaving another with a severe brain injury.
He lost his left leg in the accident and in the years following, he battled depression and alcohol problems.
But a chance encounter with legendary boxing trainer Johnny Lewis at a charity event four years ago turned his life around.
Now 34, he’s a changed man. Hardman is bringing up two daughters (aged 6 and 10) alone after his estranged wife died of cancer last January.
He’s also helping other young Indigenous boxers get ahead in the sport.
Hardman says his life experiences make them listen.
“I’ve been in the same boat as you guys” he tells them. “I’m saying if I can get up and change my way of life, hopefully you can do too.”
Hardman also showed great promise as a golfer. He won the Australian Amputee title on the Gold Coast and it was through golf that he crossed paths with Lewis. The trainer has immense respect Hardman’s newfound love of boxing and the work he’s doing with young athletes.
“If I can get up and change my way of life, hopefully you can do too.”
“He’s inspirational to them,” Lewis says. “They love him they respect him and they’re doing great things for him and Brad deserves a lot of credit.”
Both men feel Australia’s sporting public is missing out because so many talented Indigenous sportsmen and women go unrecognised.
“I remember when I was younger fighting in amateur fights there was young Kurri fighters out there at the same shows that had the most talent you’ve ever seen but then you don’t hear from them ever again,” Hardman says.
The father-of-two has fought four able-bodied men in the ring and he hopes his example may help inspire a new generation of Indigenous talent.