Joining his local boxing club at the age of 18 upon the advice of friends, he was a natural, winning junior titles alongside a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. Forever sports asked if becoming Olympic Champion helped ease the pressure.
‘’Yeah, 100 per cent, 100 per cent. I relate it back to the Olympics because back then I was thrown in the deep end and people were saying it was too early, but we came out victorious, we came out on top. The same questions are being asked now, but I've got that bit more experience. I know they say amateur boxing and professional boxing are two different sports, but the objective never changed. It never changes – it's all about winning.’’
So far it has been all about winning as to date, Anthony Joshua has won all 16 of his fights by knockout, with all but one in the third round or earlier. His 14th fight against fellow Brit Dillian Whyte was arguably his toughest, but despite this, he explains it helped him become a better boxer:
‘’I went through hell with Dillian, because I wanted to rip him apart and rip his soul out of him. I nearly did that, though… This is a sport, but at the same time it gets emotional. You've got two people trained to their very best physical condition and going head to head. I would prefer to show that I can become world champion by outclassing him, not just by brute force and strength.’’
Giving Up FIFA
Being a champion boxer does not come without sacrifices and AJ tells us the worst one he had to make.
‘’I used to play FIFA until it affected boxing [laughs]. I had to stop playing because it affected my sleep and recovery. Mate, I could stay up till five in the morning playing it, get up at seven and train. That's how mad it was, it wasn't healthy – even then it was always sports.’’
While we would love to be IBF World Champion, giving up FIFA may be a step too far!
Never Switch Off
Joshua explains the key to balancing everything is keeping his focus on boxing:
‘‘Monday to Friday I'm around fighters all the time, Saturday I'm thinking about resting and Sunday I'm thinking I've got to go back to the gym tomorrow! You don't switch off. You don't think about anything else other than boxing.’’
With a busy training schedule he can sometimes have four meals a day, but he does not follow a strict meal schedule. The important thing, he explains, is to understand why he makes certain food choices:
‘’Even when I eat my mind is on boxing. Yesterday I was eating Shredded Wheat and I only had white sugar when I should've been eating honey. In my mind I was like. Why can't I just have sugar?, but then I think about how it will affect my energy levels. I have to make judgements like that all the time.’’
A typical days meals for Anthony Joshua consists of:
Breakfast: Egg, rice, chicken, avocado, bread and a large fruit juice.
Lunch: Salmon, rice, noodles and vegetables.
Dinner: Pounded Yam stew, okra and some meat.
His next opponent is well matched with 17 wins under his belt since turning professional, with 15 of those by knockout. He is known as a resilient fighter and managed to recover from a third round knockdown in his last fight against Amir Masour, who retired on his stool after the fifth round.
Below are the key stats for both fighters.
Won By KO: 16
Rounds Boxed: 34
Height: 6ft 6ins
Won By KO: 15
Rounds Boxed: 57
Height: 6ft 7ins
So how do you become a IBF Heavyweight champion? Anthony Joshua shows it takes dedication, sacrifices, hard work and focus; but more importantly, he teaches us if you’re willing to commit yourself to it, you could be a world champion.
Anthony Joshua fights Dominic Breazeale at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday the 25/06/2016, with the coverage on Sky Box Office starting at 7:30 PM.
If you feel inspired to give boxing a go, you can find everything you need here.