By: Yussuf Anka
Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua was born on the 15th October 1989 in Watford, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom by a Nigerian mother Yeta and a British father with Irish and Nigerian ancestry. Joshua’s Nigerian background can be traced to the Yoruba people of Sagamu, Ogun state.
Joshua spent most of his early years as a boarding student in Nigeria, he was excellent at football and athletics. At age 18, Joshua, a bricklayer picked up boxing, with Finchley ABC in Barnet, North London, a suggestion by his cousin.
Joshua won the 2009 and 2010 Haringey Box Cup, he also won the senior ABA Championships in 2010. He later turned down a £50,000 offer to turn professional, saying he was bidding his time.
“Turning that £50,000 was easy. I didn’t take up sport for money. I want to win medals” he said. He went on to win the same tournament the next year.
Joshua became a British amateur champion after defeating Amin Isa. His fast rise involved many battles, which he won and medals and awards to show for it. Some of the awards include Amateur Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Club of Great Britain in 2011.
He represented England at the 2011 World Championships in the super heavyweight division where he beat the Italian reigning World & Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle and Erik Pfeifer of Germany in the semis before losing by a single point to local boxer, Magomedrasul Majidov during the 2012 Olympic qualifiers.
Although he won a silver medal, Joshua secured his place at the 2012 Olympic Games in the 91 kg+ division as a relative newcomer to the elite level of the sport. He went on to win gold for Great Britain at the Olympic games on home soil.
Joshua was confirmed professional under the Match room Sport promotional banner on 11th July 2013. He made his professional debut on 5 October 2013 at the O2 Arena in London and from then, he has never looked back. In 2014, a year after turning professional, he was named Prospect of the Year by The Ring magazine.
He became the British and Commonwealth champion on 16 July 2015, after defeating an undefeated Scottish boxer Gary Cornish. After a tough fight Joshua said, “Gary had a solid jab so I had to make sure he didn’t take any of those shots. He was throwing a large jab and I tried to slip it. I managed to land the right hand and it was a perfect connection and he went down.”
Some of his popular successful battles include the defeat of Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin, whom he dethroned as IBF heavyweight champion and then Eric Molina. His defeat of Molina set up his epic bout with unified heavyweight champion, Vladmir Klitscko whom he defeated after being knocked down twice.
After Klitsckho, he has defended his title against Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Pavel Povetkin. Joshua is known for his exceptional punching power, he has finished all but one of his fights to date by knockouts. He holds an enviable record of 22 wins out of 22 bouts and just 1 by unanimous decision
In 2017, his victorious fight against Wladimir Klitschko was named Fight of the Year by The Ring and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Joshua is the second British boxer, after James DeGale, to win both a gold medal at the Olympics and a world title.
The heavyweight World Boxing champion was declared the new global icon by a telecom company in Nigeria with the launch of a new campaign themed “Driving the Future”. The TV commercial highlights the tenacity and fighting spirit that Nigerians are known for all over the world.
Joshua has ever been proud of his Nigerian roots and often says that the Nigerian spirit runs through his veins. He made an attempt to represent Nigeria at Beijing 2008 Olympics but he was rejected by the country’s national boxing officials, disappointed he went back to England to represent Great Britain.
Had he been given the chance, he probably would have won Nigeria’s first Olympic gold in boxing. Despite this disappointment, his love for the country never wavered; a way of showing his allegiance to his motherland is a tattoo of Africa etched on his right shoulder with Nigeria visibly outlined.
Joshua has been known for his love for Nigerian food as he regularly posts videos of local delicacies especially Iyan (Pounded Yam) and Ewedu on his social media handles. He revealed that people want him to be vegan but his love for Nigerian food makes it almost impossible.
When he was asked after the knockout of Wladimir Klitschko if he considers himself a Nigerian or a British he said “I’m a Nigerian man by blood. I have Nigerian blood in me”. He is always proud of his Nigerian roots and keeps very much in touch he says in one of his interviews with the BBC. He even has eminent Nigerians, including Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun going to show support during his bouts
Joshua has been awarded the Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of British Empire (MBE) for his significant achievement for the kingdom.
The whole world is waiting for the big fight with American Deontay Wilder who holds the only elusive belt for Joshua. In preparation for a the potential bout, he is set to enter the ring, this time against another American Jarell Miller on June 1.