Anthony Joshua - From Humble Beginnings To One Of The Most Respected UK Athletes

Anthony Joshua is bookies' favourite as he goes into his fight with Andy Ruiz Jr in Madison Square Garden tonight.

The iconic venue has previously held bouts from Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and Joe Frazier; so, whatever the outcome of tonight's fight having the chance to fight at such a prestigious venue has been hailed as a 'landmark' moment in Joshua's career.

And what a career it's been for the 29-year-old. Born in Watford to Nigerian parents Yeta and Robert; Joshua spent some of his childhood years in Nigeria where he attended boarding school, before returning back to the UK when he was 12.

Growing up Joshua, who was raised by his mum, had a couple of scrapes with the law - the first one when he was just 16 and got into a scrap at a school football match.

Describing the incident to the Mirror, he explained: "This guy was trying to wind me up. I got him round the neck and threw him over my shoulder.

Anthony Joshua didn't step into a boxing ring until he 18. Credit: PA
Anthony Joshua didn't step into a boxing ring until he 18. Credit: PA

"I didn't know my own strength and he didn't land too well. It went to court. Luckily, they gave me a slap across the wrist."

The heavyweight champ came into boxing quite late in life, first putting on gloves in 2007 when he was 18, encouraged by his cousin boxer Ben Ileyemi.

Joshua's prowess for the sport soon became clear and he was soon offered £50,000 to turn pro - but he turned it down.

Explaining his decision years later, he said: "Turning down that £50,000 was easy. I didn't take up the sport for money, I want to win medals."

And he did just that. He got a gold at the 2010 GB Amateur Boxing Championships and a silver in the 2011 European Amateur Boxing Championships.

In 2011 he was selected for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. But it was 'round about this time things could have gone pear-shaped for the boxer because that year he was caught speeding - while wearing his Team GB tracksuit - after searching his car, police found cannabis in his kit-bag and he was charged with possession.

He avoided jail and was given a 12-month suspended sentence as well as 100 hour of community service. At the London Olympics, he would go on to get gold after a tense fight with Roberto Cammerelle.

He was awarded an OBE in December. Credit: PA
He was awarded an OBE in December. Credit: PA

Speaking to the Mirror about his brush with the law he said: "It wasn't so much the actual charge that had the effect. It was all the grief from my friends, my family - especially my mum - and from boxing. "

Joshua is now one of the most respected men in the sport, getting himself an OBE last December, and has a solid reputation for remaining humble despite his success.

When the big bucks started rolling in, Joshua bought his mum's Golders Green council flat and continued living with her.

He currently holds the holds the WBA, IBF and WBO titles and is reportedly eyeing up a bout with Deontay Wilder - so it's fair to say we've probably not seen the best of AJ just yet.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Claire Reid

Claire is a journalist at LADbible who, after dossing around for a few years, went to Liverpool John Moores University. She graduated with a degree in Journalism and a whole load of debt. When not writing words in exchange for money she is usually at home watching serial killer documentaries surrounded by cats. You can contact Claire at [email protected]

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