Anthony Joshua: 'Without my gym there would be no me'

Anthony Joshua told me it takes talent and discipline to rise to the top in his sport, but the doors of boxing clubs have to stay open for that.

"Amateur clubs are everything. I still train here [at Finchley Boxing Club] to this day. Without this gym there would be no me."

He is an incredible sporting talent, the poster boy for the sport and on Tuesday he announced he’d be investing a rumoured six-figure sum into grassroots boxing across England, Scotland and Wales.

He fears for the next generation because so many amateur gyms have had to shut during the pandemic.

He wants to support community clubs financially so they can keep the lights and the heating on.

Finchley Boxing Club is where it all began for him. He calls it his second home.

He said: "It’s so important for this gym to stay open and survive this tough time so we don't lose out on a generation."

"If I was a younger man in this pandemic and there was a situation where the gym might be shut. I wouldn’t carry on with boxing. These kids, they need that regiment and the doors need to be open," he added.

Joshua supports causes that are close to his heart. In the summer, he joined a Black Lives Matter rally in his hometown of Watford.

"I don’t know what to call racism. I just feel like it’s a lack of education, a lack of cultural understanding. We’re all one race at the end of the day.

"We’re all one people. Me being a young, black African man I feel that I’ve come across people from all walks of life and we’ve managed to get along."

A man he might struggle to get along with next year is Tyson Fury. He told me on Tuesday that he plans to face him in the ring next year, and he’s preparing for it already, back in the gym and sparring even tonight.

Credit: PA

"I am the man who is going to beat Tyson Fury. If it was me, I’d have it in February or March but what we’re going to try and do is have it later in the year, in the middle, because we don’t quite know what is going to happen next year with the pandemic," he said.

When I asked him what his dream scenario would be for the fight, I meant the country where it would be held, the stadium, the size of the crowd. His answer was far more entertaining.

"My dream scenario would be to knock his head off, and bring that belt back here."

Joshua and Fury are two of the world’s greatest fighters and they’re both British. Surely this fight should take place here?"Absolutely!" Joshua told me.

But before 2020 begins, the boxing titan has other ideas.

"When the world goes at 100 miles an hour, I go at 150 miles an hour. The pandemic has given me a chance to slow down and spend time with family and what matters."

However, he’ll be spending Christmas Day on his own with a dinner brought round by his Aunt.

He can’t wait for a day to just "chill." Wise. He’s got a big year ahead.