Since touching gold at the 2012 Olympics, Anthony Joshua has had the midas touch and has been on a whirlwind of a journey. From being a rookie and making his way out of Finchley Boxing Gym to becoming two-time heavyweight champion of the world, AJ’s had a career to remember. But not all is won yet.
After regaining his belts in Saudi Arabia back in 2019, new but familiar opposition awaits. Anthony is composed ahead of his hugely-anticipated fight with fellow Brit Tyson Fury and this is the first time he has had the chance to unify the heavyweight division and reign supreme with all five belts.
Whilst boxing is the main goal, the hit-man from Watford’s love for music is clearly visible. As we touch on different era’s of UK music, Joshua reminisces on the scene back in the day and pays homage to the likes of Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and Ghetts. We’ve seen him drop his own bars countless times and a potential Daily Duppy is also discussed!
AJ also knows home is where the heart is. The heavyweight champion speaks of his homeland of Nigeria and the prospect of one day returning home with the likes of Lawrence Okolie and UFC champions Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya.
We had the chance to catch up with the champ over Zoom as he completes his campaign for#TheNewLynxEffect.
You’ve recently been shooting with Lynx for their new campaign #TheNewLynxEffect. How did you find the experience?
“I feel like Lynx do amazing with their content. They bring in different people from different industries like Calfreezy, Aitch, Chunkz – really good characters in general. It’s connecting people within different industries and being a boxer, I wouldn’t expect to be amongst these guys so it was a good day out to record some cool content.”
The campaign is about being the best version of yourself, so how do you apply your own morals and values inside and outside of the ring?
“I’m actually trying to do that now! It’s a constant battle trying to be the best version of yourself and as humans, we’re quite accommodating people. But in order to be the best version of yourself you need to put yourself first. I have a job which is single-minded and single-focused which is just for me. Outside of that, I’m trying to apply that by helping people when and where I can.”
Speaking about your motto Stay Hungry, Stay Humble, you pay regular visits to your old boxing gym – Finchley Boxing Club, how much does that place mean to you?
“It’s a cornerstone of the community for me. When I left Watford, that was the next place where I met a lot of the people I know now. Finchley has had a great impact on me and my friends’ life and the youth coming through now. For me, it’s not good to just take and not give back. I’ve kitted out the gym and spent time with the youth that is there now which is important.”
How important was that stage of your career, having to evolve and make the next step?
“Boxing can be made easy once you get over the battles within yourself. Boxing helped me as training was tough so I had to make life easier for myself. Boxing is about self-improvement. I’m organised, I have no mental stress. I had to organise my life more so I could approach boxing with a clear mind.”
We’ve also seen little AJ! What would you say if your son was to go in the same path as you? Or would you let him pick a different career and support him going forward?
“I’m more going to guide him! We are trying to build a family business so for me, it’s about guiding him within the family business. I try to teach him the importance of mastering your field and also mastering yourself. Boxing has taught me about self-mastery and I teach him about good manners and good ethics which go a long way.”
Let’s talk about the anticipated fight with Tyson Fury, how are you feeling physically and mentally ahead of the bout?
“I feel like a winner, It’s just another day and another opponent. I like to watch my opponents and become indulged in them so I’m learning a lot about this guy [Fury]. So I learned a lot about Andy Ruiz, Kubrat Pulev, Povetkin and now Tyson Fury. But it’s just another day!”
It’s a fight of huge magnitude. Us as fans can see there are delays in putting out a date. Do you feel boxing is becoming more business based and do fighters get to compete in their prime?
“So, boxing has always been business-based but in the benefit of the promoters. Now the power is shifting and fighters are becoming smarter. Boxing used to be a poor man’s sport, now more people are invested into it and boxers are saying ‘I need to change my life, my mother’s life.’
“So that hunger breeds application which breeds results which breeds information for the next generation! Let’s say we’re going to fight in Saudi Arabia where it’s a government official-backed event, you’re dealing with the King and different businesses. It becomes more complicated.”
We feel like the first fight should be in the UK!
“It’s because of the pandemic! We would love to do it here but the first issue was ‘let’s have the second one here because most people will be vaccinated by then.’ I don’t think there will be a second one anyway!
Just one fight and done?
“Honestly speaking all promo aside, I just feel like most people I fight, if you look at Klitschko he retired after our fight, Andy Ruiz couldn’t compete we were league’s above (second fight). I don’t think he’ll be physically the same after we fight.”
We recently saw football organisations take a break off of social media due to online abuse and racism. Do you think enough is being done?
“Hell no, it’s been going on for 400-500 years. It’s a conversation that needs to happen internally amongst people that want to make it stop. You have to deal with it with people who want to see a change.”
We have you, Lawrence Okolie, Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya flying the flag for Nigeria as world champions. This is across Boxing and UFC so will there ever be a chance of seeing you all compete on one card?
“I was speaking to Israel and Kamaru and we were saying we need to do a homecoming where we can go to Nigeria and travel around different parts of Africa! Your presence, you can’t beat that when you can go up to kids and they touch your hand and see their reaction. Around Christmas, hopefully we can schedule it one year because it’s when the whole world comes to one.”
Switching off sport and into music! We’ve seen the vibes on your Snapchat so who are your current go-to-artists?
“Currently I’ve been listening to D-Block (Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch), Tupac, Nipsey Hussle and reggae music!”
So we’ve been through three different era’s with UK music – Early Grime (Wiley, Kano, Skepta) UK Rap (Giggs, Krept and Konan) and Drill (Headie One, RV). What was your favourite era?
“Probably when Tinchy Stryder, Wiley, Ghetts and Devlin were about! The Dizzee Rascal “I Luv U” days – old-school Garage! For me that era when there was Akademiks, Avirex, Evisu, Von-Dutch – having to go Wembley market to buy CD’s! Watford was a real hot-spot, before boxing we was out and about and we would show love to everyone coming in from London.”
You previously walked out to Nines “I See You Shining” and that was a huge moment for the UK scene, what did it mean to you to have him there?
“Nines, I think he’s one of the best rappers in the UK hands down. Good flow, I like what Church Road do as a collective, similar to OFB. It’s important that when one rises, we all rise.
“I thought it was a great platform for him to take and perform (ring walk), I would’ve used his music anyway but he actually performed! He was waved and had a really good time!”
We’ve also seen Lawrence Okolie release his single “TKO”, is that something you’re going to dabble in alongside boxing?
“He’s done well! We have two athletes coming through – we have Lawrence Okolie and Ben Whittaker who box and make music. I’m really inspired by these guys because when you’re alive you should try everything. Don’t lack self-esteem, write a book, do a record, act in a film – no limits! People might dampen your ideas but if you have high self-esteem, then you’re going to try everything.”
We’ve seen numerous freestyles from you in the past, will we ever see a Daily Duppy from the champ?
“Daily Duppy? Definitely, let’s do it! What I would do with my Daily Duppy, I would choose to do it with Akala and Lowkey. With me and music, why I listen to Tupac, CJ Mac, Dr. Dre, they’re all older than me growing up. A lot of these retired artists, they give us a lot of wisdom. It’s all about listening to music for wisdom and being a motivational source.
“One person though who I listened to the other day though was Asco! I had to wheel it four times! “She say Boogie, you so lit, I tell her say Masha’Allah!” Daily Duppy me and Asco – Return of the King!”
You head it here first! AJ is ready to step up and deliver a Daily Duppy freestyle! For now, keep your eyes peeled for his Lynx ad on TV while we wait for his highly-anticipated Tyson Fury bout to take place this August.