Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, OBE is a British professional boxer who is a two-time unified heavyweight champion, having held the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019 and previously between 2016 and June 2019. At regional level, he held the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles from 2014 to 2016.
Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua was born on 15 October 1989 in Watford, Hertfordshire, the son of Yeta and Robert Joshua. His mother is Nigerian, while his father is of Nigerian and Irish ancestry. Joshua’s Nigerian background can be specifically traced back to the Yoruba people, amongst whom he is of aristocratic rank. His cousin, Ben Ileyemi, is also a professional boxer. The pair made their professional debuts together in 2013. Joshua spent some of his early years in Nigeria as a boarding school student at Mayflower School in Ikenne.
A late starter in the sport, Joshua only began boxing in 2007, aged 18, when his cousin suggested he take it up. His club, Finchley ABC in Barnet, North London, is also home to professional heavyweight Dereck Chisora. Joshua won the 2009 and 2010 Haringey Box Cup. Joshua won the senior ABA Championships in 2010, in only his 18th bout, and later turned down £50,000 to turn professional. Turning down that £50,000 was easy. I didn’t take up the sport for money, I want to win medals. He also went on to win the same tournament the following year. In 2010 his domestic success earned him a place on the GB Boxing team and later the same year he became British amateur champion at the GB Championships after defeating Amin Isa.
On 11 July 2013 it was confirmed that Joshua had turned professional under the Matchroom Sport promotional banner. Joshua made his professional debut on 5 October 2013 at the O2 Arena in London in the Main-Event of a card featuring Scott Quigg’s successful WBA super-bantamweight title defence against Yoandris Salinas, beating Italian Emanuele Leo by a technical knockout in the first round. Joshua’s second fight was against English heavyweight Paul Butlin at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield on 26 October 2013. The bout was stopped in the second round when the referee decided Butlin was taking too much punishment and declared Joshua the winner by TKO. Joshua’s third fight was on the Prizefighter Series card against Croatian Hrvoje Kišiček on 14 November 2013.
British and Commonwealth champion
Joshua vs. Whyte: Immediately after Joshua stopped Cornish, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, confirmed Dillian Whyte would next put his undefeated record on the line against Joshua. Joshua met Whyte in a grudge match for the vacant British heavyweight title on 12 December 2015, whilst also defending his Commonwealth heavyweight title for the first time. The fight took place on Sky Box Office. The two had previously fought within the amateur rankings in 2009 where Whyte had won. After surviving the first scare of his career in the second round, Joshua won the fight after initially shaking Whyte with a right hook to the temple and eventually finishing with a devastating uppercut for the KO in the seventh round. It is said that Joshua earned £3 million for this fight alone, as a result of signing a new five-year deal with Matchroom which sees him take a share of the PPV revenue earned.
IBF heavyweight champion
Joshua vs. Martin: In February 2016, it was announced that Joshua would face IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin on 9 April 2016 at the O2 Arena. Martin was making the first defence of the belt that he won after defeating Vyacheslav Glazkov for the vacant title in January 2016. Joshua set the pace in the first round and kept the southpaw Martin at bay before sending him to the canvas with a straight right hand in the second round. Martin got to his feet, only to be knocked down for a second time by a similar punch just moments later. This time Martin failed to beat the count after taking too long to get up, and the referee waved the fight off, with Joshua winning his first world title.
Joshua vs. Breazeale: Promoter Eddie Hearn announced a three-man shortlist from the IBF’s top 15 ranked boxers for Joshua’s first defence of his title. This included former WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne and Eric Molina, both of whom were recently beaten by American WBC champion Deontay Wilder, alongside unbeaten upcoming fighter Dominic Breazeale. On 25 April, it was announced that Joshua’s next fight will be against Dominic Breazeale on 25 June 2016 at the O2 Arena in London. Breazeale was ranked 13th by the IBF, below British pair Derek Chisora and David Haye.
Joshua vs. Molina: It was announced in August that Joshua would be making a second defence of his IBF title at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, on 26 November. This would mark the first time since September 2014 that Joshua would be fighting in the city. Possible names put forward for the fight were top IBF contenders Kubrat Pulev and Joseph Parker. Former unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko became the front-runner after his scheduled rematch with Tyson Fury was cancelled a second time.
Joshua is recognised as one of the most marketable athletes in the world, and has lucrative endorsement deals with numerous brands, including Under Armour, Beats By Dre, and Lucozade. In 2017, he was ranked as the world’s most marketable athlete, ahead of basketball player Stephen Curry, who was ranked most marketable the previous year. Along with his boxing ability, this has been attributed to his rags to riches story, as he avoided a life of violence and crime by dedicating himself to boxing.
Joshua has expressed an interest in chess as well as reading as a way to reinforce his boxing and tactical abilities. He was a bricklayer before taking up boxing full-time. In 2009, Joshua was put on remand in Reading Prison for what he describes as fighting and other crazy stuff. He was made to wear an electronic tag on his ankle when released.