Anthony Joshua Reflects on Boxing and Growing Up in Watford
Anthony Joshua is a two-time world heavyweight champion – holding the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles for the last 3 years. As well as his exploits in the ring, the Watford-born boxer has worked with BOSS as an ambassador since 2019. For his latest project with the brand, AJ took part in BOSS’ “Behind the BOSS” podcast series, discussing topics including his courage and conviction in his own path.
HYPEBEAST had a chat with Anthony Joshua to talk about his career, training for his upcoming fight in Saudi Arabia this August and what it means to grow up in Watford.
From growing up in Watford to fighting internationally, how has your journey been from when you first started to where you are now?
My experience through fighting has been a real journey. I came to boxing late, I was introduced to it by my cousin when I was 18, most people who take up professional sport start when they are really young, but I didn’t. I started boxing to become physically stronger, but I soon learned that boxing offered so much more than just exercise. I have been lucky enough to have seen a lot of the world through the sport and I really enjoy seeing new places and engaging with people from so many different cultures all over the world.
I am still really connected to the local community that I grew up in around Watford. A group of us have founded a project to help the local kids in Hertfordshire, so I have never lost sight of what growing up in Watford did for me as a person.
The last time you fought in Saudi Arabia was in 2019. How is this month’s experience going to be different for you?
Hopefully the main thing that will be the same in Saudi Arabia will be the winning! Outside of that, many of the fundamentals remain the same – two men, a ring and 12 rounds. I really enjoy spending time in the Middle East, I have met so many brilliant people.
Apart from the physical training and strength that comes with boxing, how do you mentally prepare going into deep training and dedicating your time to an upcoming challenge?
The mental aspect of training is without doubt as important as the physical. Your body needs to be conditioned correctly, but so does your mind in order to perform at the highest level. I like structure and routine to help keep my mind focused. I also rely heavily on mental preparation, visualizing and working through my approach.
I really like to keep my mind as active as possible in training camp through mind games like Chess. I play physically in camp with my team and also online through an app with my family. It provides a really useful mental distraction. I also like to use music as part of my training and preparation routines.
As part of your current campaign with BOSS, the brand celebrates dream chasers and those looking to define their own path. What has younger AJ done to get you where you are now and what advice would you give others trying to achieve a goal?
It’s nice because I really feel that Watford is still running through my veins and the experiences I had as a young man have really helped shape to where I am now in my life. I am still really connected to my younger self through my friends who are still in Watford. I think the drive and ambition to do more and achieve more has been with me since I was young. I think in terms of advice to others, you need to stay laser focused on your goal and don’t let anyone or circumstances get in the way of you achieving it. You need to make sure you take responsibility for yourself and keep your eyes on the prize!
You have been able to experience different opportunities through a sport that you’re passionate about. Is there a project you have yet to explore which you hope to bring into practice?
I think for the time-being my absolute focus has to be on my sport.
Boxing is never something you can take lightly. You have to give it full dedication and there is only a small window in which you can operate at the highest level. I think once I hang up the gloves there are lots of passion projects that I will really want to dedicate a lot of my time to. I have a passion for helping the next generation in the community that I grew up in, so that will certainly take up more of my time in the years to come. I certainly feel a responsibility to help those kids who need assistance to start life in the right direction.
You mentioned in ‘Behind the Boss’ that you went “from zero to the Olympics in 3 years” because of your passion and hunger. How does that come into play when you’re working on a project that doesn’t include your sport or training?
I think the approach remains the same. You still need to be focused on an ultimate goal and create a plan or strategy on how you accomplish it. The passion comes from being involved in a project or industry that you really enjoy being a part of, using natural ambition to push you forward. I am lucky to be involved in a few different businesses that are not directly related to “training” and you have to build a team of people who are very smart and loyal, then target set and help people achieve their own targets. The fundamentals remain the same even though the environment is different.
Anthony Joshua will be going head to head with Oleksandr Usyk in Jeddah, Saudi on August 20 as part of the Rage on the Red Sea.
For more in sports, Ric Flair wins his “Last Match” at 73.