On 10th December, Anthony Joshua will step into the ring at the Manchester Arena bidding to successfully defend his IBF world heavyweight title for the second time, after defeating Charles Martin to win the title in April and then Dominic Breazeale in his first defence in June.
But how much do you know about one of Britain’s greatest sporting success stories of recent times? To give you a refresher, here are 20 interesting facts.
- He hails from ..
Watford, to be exact, where he was born on 15th October 1989.
- ...via Nigeria
However, having been born to a Nigerian mother and a British father of Nigerian and Irish descent, he hasn’t forgotten his connections to Africa. Indeed, he has a tattoo of the continent on his upper right arm, with Nigeria outlined.
- He used to be a ..
The young Joshua made good use of his undoubted physical prowess before turning pro. As he told BBC Sport: “It paid well, it was active and I was working outside, which I like.”
- ...but a move to London changed everything
“I was looking at becoming a builder, learning my trade, starting my own company. But when I moved to London with my mum and I didn’t have many friends up here, I got into boxing out of boredom.”
- He was a late starter
Only in 2007 was he finally persuaded to try boxing by his cousin, Ben Ileyemi. Five years later, he was the proud owner of a London 2012 gold medal.
- A drugs arrest threatened to halt his career
In March 2011, he was arrested for possession of cannabis with intent to supply. He was convicted but escaped a jail sentence and, determined to reform his character, permitted by Team GB to compete in the Olympics.
- He’d like to meet President Barack Obama
In an interview with Men’s Health, Joshua cited outgoing US President Barack Obama as the person he’d most like to share a drink with, adding: “It would be great if he could sort me out with a visa and maybe show me around the White House.” You don’t have long left, Barack – sort it out.
- Wladimir Klitschko has called him “the future” of heavyweight boxing
The Ukrainian legend has declared: “The future of the [heavyweight] division belongs to Joshua. I haven’t seen an athlete as athletic, as big, as fast, as talented as Anthony and if he’s going to continue the way he is, developing himself, the future belongs to him.”
- The two could even meet in the ..
If Joshua defeats Molina, Klitschko is his next likely assignment, the two having been cleared to fight for the WBA heavyweight title vacated by Tyson Fury in October.
- But Molina could have something to say about that
In response to Joshua’s suggestion that he wanted to make his second title defence “look easy”, the American said to Sky Sports: “To be quite honest, I don’t think much of Klitschko, he’s had his time. I think his time has passed him by and I think the fight with me will be tougher than what the Klitschko fight is going to be.”
- Joshua would be happy to see the Ukrainian at the fight
He said that Klitschko would be “more than welcome” to take a ringside seat for the IBF title defence.
- 50 Cent is one of his inspirations
Joshua has said of the rapper’s iconic Get Rich or Die Tryin’ album: “When we were younger and getting into trouble, I remember listening to the CD with one of my close friends. And it was that mentality – basically succeed or nothing. I was obviously putting that mentality in the wrong direction and maybe that’s why I’ve done alright in boxing, because I now use it in the right way.”
- He likes a Nando’s...
“As a heavyweight boxer I don’t have to make weight so I’m lucky. That’s why I can have a whole chicken when I go to Nando’s.”
- He can run 100 metres in under 11 seconds
That is at least the claim of boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. On a special episode of Superstars for the BBC, he managed a time of 11.53 seconds.
- He plays chess to enhance his boxing tactics
“Lennox [Lewis] got it into my mind and then a friend taught me. Chess, it’s the same type of thing in the ring, like taking one of your opponent’s pieces and then counter-attacking. You need to be two moves ahead all the time.”
- London 2012 glory came by the skin of his teeth
Despite being a red-hot favourite for a gold medal, he could have easily fallen at the first hurdle. The first fixture against Cuba’s Erislandy Savon – ranked fourth in the world – was judged 17-16 in the Londoner’s favour, but some observers thought it was Savon who had clearly won, with one journalist declaring it “the worst scored Olympic fight I’ve ever seen.”
- He went on to beat the defending Olympic champion
He was declared the winner over 32-year-old Italian Roberto Cammarelle via count-back, although some observers criticised this as a “home decision”.
- A post box has been painted gold in honour of him
This was in recognition of his London 2012 success; you’ll find it in Watford.
- He turned down a £50,000 offer to turn professional in 2010
Although Joshua turned pro in 2013 under the Matchroom Sport promotional banner, it could have happened three years earlier. However, he rejected the mega money offer to focus on the Olympics, on which he reflected: “Turning down that £50,000 was easy. I didn’t take up the sport for money. I want to win medals.”
- He has been honoured by the Queen
He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to boxing.
So, now that you know a little more about the man who seems to be well on his way to becoming the most dominant boxer on the planet, why not tap into some of his success for yourself by getting involved in matched betting on this hugely anticipated event?
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