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Boxing

From Watford Estate To Wembley Stadium: The Inspiring Story Of Anthony Joshua

Nasir Jabbar

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From Watford Estate To Wembley Stadium: The Inspiring Story Of Anthony Joshua

Hailing from the modest surroundings of Meriden estate in Watford, Anthony Joshua didn't fall victim to being a product of his environment. Though the struggle he experienced climbing the proverbial ladder is a binary to the position he finds himself in now.

Joshua's troubled past, which includes several run-ins with the police, nearly derailed a professional career. But, like so many, boxing turned his life around forging a path to channel his attitude.

The noble art was the source of inspiration he needed following his wretched past despite receiving a solid upbringing from his parents.

Contrary to popular belief, boxing saves lives.

Ahead of his eagerly-awaited dust-up with Wladimir Klitschko, we chronicle the rise of Joshua from his days as an amateur to world glory and beyond.

2012 Olympic Games.

(Joshua celebrates his gold medal with the Union Jack draped over him. Image: PA)

Joshua was a late bloomer. He first laced up a pair of gloves as an 18-year-old after being dragged to the gym by his cousin. But while plying his trade at Finchley ABC Boxing Club, he soon began to bag medal after medal.

His exploits culminated in the senior ABA Championships in 2010 before reaching the peak of amateur boxing in the home Olympic games in 2012.

Prior to the summer Olympics, Joshua had received offers to turn professional but rejected their advances in bid of a podium spot. And not only did he make the podium but he claimed the gold medal.

Despite being a relative novice, the super-heavyweight Olympian reached the pinnacle of the unpaid ranks subsequently turning pro.

Turning Professional.

On the dotted line: Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua seal the deal for the Olympic champion to turn proOn the dotted line: Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua seal the deal for the Olympic champion to turn pro

(Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn seals the services of Anthony Joshua with a handshake. Image: Lawrence Lustig)

A year after his super-heavyweight success at the Olympics, Joshua ditched the vest and head guard for 10oz gloves becoming an attractive signing for any promotion.

While a host of promoters expressed an interest, it was Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing who ultimately acquired his services.

The unprecedented attention resulted in Joshua topping the bill on his professional bow at the iconic O2 Arena. Typically, your debut opponent will be a jobber, a journeyman or some schmuck with a losing record.

Though Joshua was squared with an 11-0 fighter but made light work, earning a stoppage in the very first round. That victory was followed up with another four before opening the Carl Froch vs. George Groves II card at Wembley Stadium.

Wembley Stadium - The First Time.

(The referee signals the end of the fight after Joshua leaves his opponent crumbled on the canvas. Image: PA)

It's rare to fight at Wembley Stadium, let alone twice. Unless your name is Anthony Joshua, of course. Joshua served as the curtain-raiser for the then-biggest fight on U.K soil.

After blasting Matt Legg inside 90-seconds, Joshua improved his record to 6-0 with all finishes inside the distance, continuing his impressive start to life as a pro.

Joshua shone in front of a half-full stadium which saw Froch land his defining punch of his career, landing a hellacious right-hand flush on Groves' chin. In the space of two years and 11 months, Joshua went from opening the show to being involved in the biggest fight on these shores, underlining his meteoric rise to stardom.

He's now set to use the memories from that fight to drive him towards his headline act on Saturday while boasting the advantages of having fought at the national football stadium.

IBF World Heavyweight Champion.

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(Team Joshua celebrate claiming the IBF world heavyweight title. Image: PA)

After securing the Commonwealth title then the coveted British version, Joshua was handed a world title shot in just his 16th professional bout.

Tyson Fury's stunning upset in Germany by unseating Klitschko sent seismic shock-waves through the division. But Fury's reluctance to defend the IBF belt against his mandatory challenger resulted in his title being yanked from him.

Modest contenders fought for the vacant title with the unheralded Charles Martin claiming world honours who opted to immediately cash out by crossing the pond to face Joshua.

Though Martin was over-matched and out of his depth, succumbing to Joshua's blistering speed and power who needed just four minutes and 32-seconds to inflict the American with his first professional defeat.

It was merely a few years removed from his heroics in his home-Olympic games where he won a gold medal. Joshua became just the second British fighter to secure an Olympic gold medal and win a world title, following in the footsteps of James DeGale.

Two successful defences later, he now faces his acid test.

Wembley Stadium - Wladimir Klitschko.

(Joshua and Klitschko come face-to-face at Wembley Stadium ahead of fight night on April 29th. Image: PA)

A 41-year-old ex-world champion stands in the way of Joshua from becoming the face of the heavyweight division.

Klitschko makes his anticipated return to the ring following his upset defeat to Fury, and seeks to reclaim his world titles as he heads into the twilight of his illustrious career.

The Ukrainian has been left licking his wounds for the past 18-months, and while his last fight has been dissected more than a frog, there's no denying Klitschko's legacy and the ability he possess.

His arsenal is as wide as his wing-span and is a double whammy of threat. Not only is he an experienced former kingpin, but also a decorated amateur having won an Olympic gold medal back in 1996.

The fight poses many questions hence the enormity of the bout; Is Joshua ready? Is Klitschko past it? In just a few hours all these questions will be answered.

For so long, and too long, we've been lamenting the state of the heavyweight division, but tonight Joshua has the potential to reignite the storied division.

Joshua. Klitschko. Wembley Stadium. The biggest fight on British soil is moments away.

Topics: Anthony Joshua, Boxing, Wembley Stadium, Wladimir Klitschko

Nasir Jabbar
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