Thursday, 25 August 2016

Meet ANTHONY JOSHUA: The Nigerian-British Heavyweight Boxing Champion

Current IBF Heavyweight Champion who has previously held Commonwealth, British and WBC Heavyweight titles. As an amateur he won silver medal at the 2011 World Championship and gold medal at the Super-Weight division at the 2012 Olympics. He’s being ranked as the world’s sixth heavyweight boxer by The Ring Magazine and currently boasts of 100% knockout ratio. 

He’s one of the most gifted and prospect that has excited the boxing arena in years; no wonder he is the people’s future champion. According to history, he’s the second British boxer, after James DeGale, to win both a gold medal at the Olympics and a world title by a major professional sanctioning body; he’s as well also celebrated as the second boxer, after Joe Frazier, to win a world heavyweight title while still being in the Olympic champion at the top weight.  

He’s Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, a Nigerian-British born professional boxer, born to Nigerian parents. He spent some parts of his early years in Nigeria before he returned to the UK to further his High School at Kings Langley Secondary School. Being a regular gifted sportsman, AJ as he’s fondly called played some football and as an athlete, he excelled in it and broke the Year Nine 100m record with a time of 11.6 seconds. However, boxing was his passion so he quickly rose through the ranks.

At 17 Anthony moved to the Capital from Watford where he grew; he was then introduced to boxing by cousin who he joined at Finchley ABC to commence training. He won the 2009 and 2010 Haringey Box Cup and the senior ABA Championships in 2010, in only his 18th bout. He equally won the same tournament the following year.
The years that followed, Anthony became Champion of Britain, won the ABAE title, retain it, reached the quarterfinals of the European Championships, defeat Olympic and two-time World Champion Roberto Cammarelle, won a silver medal in the World Championships, secure qualification for London 2012 and subsequently win the Super Heavyweight Gold Medal.

Anthony made his professional debut on the 5th October 2013 in front of a capacity crowd at the O2 Arena in London, beating the Italian Emanuele Leo by technical knockout in the first round. Same year he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year Honours for services to boxing.

A little more than a year after making his professional debut and already undefeated in eight fights, he defeated Denis Bakhtov one minute into the second round, again at the O2 Arena to win the WBC International Heavyweight Title.

The following year and now 13 fights without a loss, on 12th September 2015, Anthony stopped the previously undefeated Gary Cornish just one minute and 37 seconds into the first round to become the new Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion at age 24.
The anticipated matchup between Anthony and Dillian Whyte due to long time rivalry between the due that started back in 2009, took place on the 12th December 2015. Anthony achieved his first career goal through the bout by becoming the British Heavyweight Champion after he won by knockout in the seventh round of a keenly contested fight. Not only was this the longest fight of his career, but also amounted to his 15 fights undefeated.

In April 2016, Anthony secured his place in history as he became the IBF World Heavyweight Champion, knocking out American, Charles Martin in less than 60 seconds into the second round; achieving the feat of his 16th bout winning in a roll and all knockouts.  He became the fifth fastest man to become a World Heavyweight Champion, achieving this great feat in less than 3 years almost a year quicker than his idol, Muhammad Ali.

In June 2016, Anthony achieved the mother of all his great feats, when he defeated unbeaten American, Dominic Breazeale, who attempted to dethrone him of the World Champion, but ‘ko le work’ , with Anthony brutally knocking the about 7” tall challenger to the canvas twice in the seventh round. The fight was stopped, and Anthony retained his title and his record now counts 17-0, all knockouts.

It is obvious that the future holds no limit for this excellent, energetic and fantastic Nigerian-British boxer, as he looks ahead towards claiming the WBA and the WBO titles, and cementing his name in the hall of fame of world great boxers.

How I wish this young man is flying solely the Nigerian flag, but anyway, there’s God. It’s about time our government started making this country conducive for creative minds to grow and also scouting for great talents like this; not just in sports but all other professional and creative fields of life, before they are flown overseas and their potentials are discovered and fully maximize for the benefits of their host nations. 

By Sunday Obembe

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