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3rd June 2020
By: Noah Abrahams
Rising from the realms of North London’s Finchley ABC Boxing Gym to world heavyweight stardom, Anthony Joshua has grown from humble beginnings into a humble champion.
Born in Watford, AJ knew that by utilizing physicality and strength from a young age he could follow a path where he could fully fulfill his potential.
Exploring track and field at school, it wasn’t until 18-years-old that Joshua shifted his sporting interests to boxing. Persuaded by his cruiserweight cousin Ben Ileyemi to step into the ring, AJ was quickly hooked.
Impressing as an amateur, the part-time bricklayer ventured into the 2010 Team GB Boxing set-up. A British Amateur Champion, Joshua secured his place at the 2012 London Olympics when winning a silver medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Azerbaijan.
Achieving Olympic Gold on home soil as he beat Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle in the closing super-heavyweight bout of the 2012 competition, AJ’s life changed forever.
Made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen, boxing royalty in the shape of promoter Eddie Hearn and trainer Rob McCracken helped mold a new king of the sport.
The World Heavyweight crown eventually placed on AJ’s head after beating Charles Martin in 2016, Joshua defended his IBF belt against Dominic Breazeale and Éric Molina, unifying his championship against the legendary Wladimir Klitschko just 9 months after his bout with Martin.
Facing some of the toughest opponents in boxing since, AJ’s very first ‘battles’ began in the classroom!
Providing Boxing Guru readers with a rare insight into Joshua at sixth form college, former music lecturer Dan Morgan shared his experience of teaching a future World Heavyweight Boxing Champion.
Enrolling onto a music course in 2005 at West Herts College in Watford, 16-year-old Anthony Joshua made a deep impression on Mr Morgan.
“He was a nice lad, a lovely bloke and I never had any sort of trouble or grief with him at all. Anthony was full of energy and always liked a laugh. I’m not just saying that for lip service, he always displayed an excellent temperament and attitude,” Morgan told Boxing Guru.
A star pupil for McCracken, the Lions Den at the English Institute of Sport was a classroom more appropriate for an obvious sportsman. Whilst Morgan thoroughly enjoyed Joshua’s participation, it was always clear that other plans awaited AJ.
“Anthony signed up for music. I remember he really liked his music but was not so fond of the boring theory and essay classes,” he said.
“He and his mates were always boisterous, full of energy and always being ticked off for minor stuff. I remember Anthony being so tall that as a tutor, you would stand there trying to have a word with him, and he was about two feet taller.
“I remember once walking down the corridor and seeing Anthony and one of his mates crawling out of the back of a music composition class. “What are you two doing, where are you going?” I shouted. “Dan, it’s so boring really we just can’t take it anymore” both said in unison!”
With no indication of just how successful Watford’s now most famous sportsman would become, Morgan explained that one should never make an assumption about someone.
“I had absolutely no idea that Anthony would go so far. In my experience, you never can tell. Never judge a book by its cover, always do the best for any student who presents themself. A teacher’s hope is that you may have a positive effect on someone.
“It is certain that as far as I am aware, the music team can take no credit for Anthony’s success. The last conversation I remember having with him was a kind of tutorial pep talk, explaining that rather than torture himself with all the academic work, essays, etc, which he had no real love for, he should find something that really motivates him that he wants to do.
“I, like everyone, has followed Anthony’s progress since he turned professional and has competed in some of the biggest fights in history. In interviews he still displays a great attitude and humble personality.
“The last time I saw AJ was when watching him win Olympic Gold. I thought he had clearly found something that he liked, that motivated him and that he is very good at. Good luck to him.”
In the latest, ever-changing Anthony Joshua news, the Brit will next defend his IBF, WBA and WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev. The bout, which before lockdown was meant to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, is expected to remain in the UK when it goes ahead.
Whilst the 62,000-capacity ground at Tottenham is ruled out, smaller venues such as the Royal Albert Hall will be considered. A victory for Joshua will earn him the right to fight Tyson Fury in an all-English Fight of the Century.
Fury insists that he wants to take on the Watford boy, but says that they must get past their respective next bouts. Can Joshua write his name into the history books and beat Fury? Or will AJ double his loss tally?
“Just set yourself a goal and try and stick to it. Because you’ll always end up better than where you started.” – Anthony Joshua
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