By Wisdom Deji-Folutile
Anthony Joshua, two-time Unified World Heavyweight Champion, said that he used to smoke and spent time in jail before starting his boxing career.
The boxing champion said this in an interview with British Vogue for their July 2021 issue.
The 31-year-old narrated how he moved to Nigeria briefly at the age of 11 after his mother decided to establish a business in the country.
“That’s where they (his parents) were born. That’s where their friends are. They’ve always travelled backwards and forwards. When I was 11, my mum set up a business there, and we went, too,” he said.
Joshua also spoke about his brief stint in a Nigerian boarding school, stating that the conditions were harsh with “no-nonsense” teachers.
“You’re woken at five in the morning, and if you don’t wake up, the teachers burst through the door. You go and fetch your water, shower, iron your clothes, and then school starts,” he said.
The Watford native then revealed that his parents got divorced, which led to his life spiralling out of control.
He said, “I had left school, and I was a Jack the Lad, you know what I mean? My mum had moved to London. I didn’t want to leave Watford, so I was moving from one auntie’s house to another auntie’s house. Then I got my own little place when I was like 16, 17, and I stopped all sports and stuff like that
“That’s when I started, you know, smoking a bit, doing my own thing. And then I got banned from my area in Watford. I wasn’t allowed to go back. I was in jail for a little bit, and on tag for about 14 months.”
After leaving prison, Joshua said Ben Ileyemi, his cousin, taught him the basics of boxing.
Amidst all the introduction to the pugilistic stances and punch combinations, he watched Tyson — who was then the undisputed world heavyweight champion — closely.
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“Yeah. When I moved from Watford into London, I started chilling with my cousin, and he was boxing at the time. I was driving, so I’d take him to the gym,” he said.
“I was doing weights, banging up my triceps. Then after a little while, my cousin gave me some shorts and boots and taught me how to wrap my hand. Then I discovered Mike Tyson.”
Joshua said it was Tyson that inspired him to get his life together and take boxing more seriously.
“I saw this kid who had been about 13-years-old getting into a whole heap of trouble, from a bad background, where you’re deemed the worst in society, who became one of the most praised champions that the world has ever seen, all through hard work and discipline. I felt like I could do the same thing. So I took boxing a little bit more seriously,” he said.
Joshua was supposed to fight World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury before a court ruling hindered their fight.
The boxer will now face Oleksandr Usyk instead in a mandatory title challenge bout.