Orthodox by style, unorthodox by nature. Anthony Joshua’s quite remarkable rise from being charged for drug possession and banned from boxing to Heavyweight Champion of the World is hard to ignore.
The idea of someone winning an Olympic gold after a mere four years’ experience within the sport is one that’s difficult to fathom, but a reality for Joshua. The 25-year-old began boxing at 18 years old after brief flirtations with it at 15, focusing instead on bodybuilding and partying.
In 2011 he was spared jail after pleading guilty to possession of drugs, but dedication and graft have seen him repay his country in the most sensational of ways, an Olympic gold medal.
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The personal growth as a result of his criminal conviction can be summed up through his lack of boxing nickname, once valuing attention and appearance, Joshua is now one to keep his head down.
Sentenced to 100 hours of community service and banned from boxing his dream was beginning to fall apart, he could have continued down the route of descent.
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Joshua has taken his second chance
The sentence could have been his first of many, but instead he used it as initiative to change. His record outside of the olympics speaks for itself, 12 fights, 12 knock outs and less than 25 rounds, the ex-bricklayer has never required more than three rounds to finish a fight.
This incredible record continued in May as he floored Raphael Zumbano in the second round to win his 12th consecutive paid fight.
The determination to give something back went far beyond his community service working with the elderly, he wanted to bring back gold for his country. This saw him reject a major £50k deal so that he could perform at the Olympics, a major risk as failure could have ended his career.
Joshua’s Olympic gold came after a long fought final with Roberto Cammarelle in which Joshua won on the count back after a strong finish. He had been trailing by three points going into the final round.
His fellow Olympic boxers are all slowly turning fully professional but Joshua is yet to join them, instead he is currently taking advantage of a ‘hybrid system’ that allows “fighters to retain Olympic eligibility while taking on professional fights under its jurisdiction.” This means he could still take part in the Rio Olympics 2016, whether he does or not remains unknown.
The no name, no nonsense powerhouse is on the rise, a British boxer to admire despite his past and living proof that a second chance can be awarded and taken.