The path Anthony Joshua has taken in his life to become a megastar inside the boxing ring is one to be admired. He has transformed from a troubled teenager to a boxing sensation in a matter of years. During his teenage years, the Watford-born boxing star could well have taken a different path in life if boxing hadn’t been introduced to him at a time when he had a few run-ins with the law.
The early years
Joshua was born in the United Kingdom on 15th October 1989 to Nigerian parents and spent much of his childhood until the age of 12 living in Nigeria. His parent’s divorce saw him return to Watford, Hertfordshire with his mother.
Although he excelled at football and athletics, this wasn’t enough to keep him out of trouble and it was in 2006, when, as a promising footballer, he had his first encounter with the law. It was during a match that an opposition player wound him up so much that Joshua grabbed him by the throat and threw him over his shoulder.
As a result, he was charged with actual bodily harm and although he was not given a prison sentence, it was the beginning of a troubled period of his life. He moved out of his mum’s flat and into a hostel and it was here where he got his first wake-up call. While staying at the hostel he hung out with a group who partook in street fighting, which led Joshua to end up being arrested and placed on remand for two weeks in Reading prison.
He spent the next 14 months electronically tagged and was placed on a curfew. He began to turn his life around after moving back in with his mum and began a bricklaying course. When Joshua was 17 his cousin took him to a local boxing club as a means to let out his fighting instincts and from the very beginning it was obvious he was a natural.
He was selected for the British boxing squad ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but nearly threw his whole career away in a moment of stupidity. After being stopped by police for speeding in February 2011, they discovered cannabis in his kit bag and he was charged with possession.
Fortunately for Joshua, he avoided a jail term and was instead sentenced to a 12-month community order and 100 hours of unpaid work. This resulted in him being suspended from the British boxing squad where they used great equipment as hand wraps for protections of the boxers. His suspension ended prior to the games and Joshua was allowed to compete for Team GB at the home Olympics.
He competed in the super-heavyweight division and became the first British super-heavyweight gold medallist since Audley Harrison won top honours back at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He was rewarded for his gold medal at Britain’s home Olympics by receiving an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen in 2013.
Along with an MBE, the British boxer also turned professional in 2013, and soon began to carve a career out as a boxing great. He secured his first victory on 5th October when he defeated Italian Emanuele Leo by technical knockout.
A further 17 opponents fought and fell against Joshua prior to one of the biggest fights of his career. He had already won the IBF heavyweight title, British heavyweight title and Commonwealth heavyweight title when he went toe-to-toe with WBA Super and IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Although the Ukrainian was nearing the end of his career, Joshua still produced a fine performance to defeat his opponent by TKO and add a further two belts to his collection. After successfully defending his titles against Frenchman Carlos Takam, he added the WBO heavyweight championship by defeating New Zealand’s Joseph Parker by unanimous decision – the first and only time this has happened in his career.
His most recent fight was against Russian Alexander Povetkin, and he came out on top after a TKO in the seventh round.
On 1st June 2019, Joshua was supposed to fight Jarrell Miller, but the American failed three drugs tests, forcing Joshua to seek an alternative opponent. In what will be Joshua’s first fight abroad, Andy Ruiz Jr has been selected as Miller’s replacement. In Joshua v Ruiz Jr odds, Joshua is the overwhelming favourite.
The fight will be held at the iconic Madison Square Garden and it will provide Joshua with the chance to make a name for himself over in the United States.