World heavyweight unified boxing champion Anthony Joshua recently visited Nigeria and made notable stops in a strong media blitz, he also took time to talk about his decision to return to base, the loss to Ruiz, his reconnection to Nigeria, and plans for the future amongst others. Taiwo Alimi captures the moments.
No heavyweight champion has brought limelight to Africa since the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Kinshasha, Zaire in 1974 like ‘home boy’ Anthony Joshua (AJ) is doing now. Boxing ‘greatest’ Mohammad Ali in promoting the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ travelled the length and breathe of Zaire under charismatic leader Mobutu Sese Seko, running and training with children, youth and elderly on the dusty streets of Kinshasa.
The Ali/Foreman was a resounding success grossing an estimated $520 million and over 50 million pay-per-view audience.
The current Nigeria tour embarked by Unified world heavyweight champion, Joshua has again brought world boxing attention to Africa, and the Sagamu-indigene has done great to reawaken the Nigerian spirit of perseverance and greatness. His visits has take AJ to the slums of Makoko, the upbeat of Africa Shrine, home to dreaming Nigerian youths, his ancestral home Sagamu and he has spared with children on the sandy streets of Sagamu, where he spent his formative years.
Speaking further on his connection with Nigeria, he offers in another interview with Independent in January:
‘I went through a rough patch. I now understand that the good has to come with the bad.
“It can’t be sunshine forever; there have to be stormy times as well. I went through a rough patch but I dealt with it, and it taught me a lot.
“You need to absorb as much information as you can. Learn to be an outgoing person so people give you information.
“Information is key – it used to be reserved for kings and queens but now we have access. Absorb that. It will help you in that anxiety moment because subconsciously there might be one piece of information that gets you through.
“If you’re someone who makes decisions by yourself, trust in your ability and instinct. The mind will play tricks but you have to take control and trust your gut instinct.
“I listen to a lot of talks or podcasts with insight into how to be strong and stay focused and channel my emotions. I am a sponge that absorbs.
“Every morning and when I get ready for bed. It plays in the background so subconsciously I take in the information.”
“I don’t want to be remembered for 10 years then fade out,” he added. “I want to make a mark on eternity.
“Be dedicated to yourself. That’s not about boxing. Have I read? Have I educated myself? Once I’ve ticked those boxes I can walk into work and perform.
“But then you get to the fight and sometimes you think; what if I turned around and said: ‘I can’t do this?’ Everybody is there. The opponent is in the ring.
“You’ve come too far, so you have to just deal with the anxiety. Once you walk down that path you have burned the bridge behind you, so you might as well dominate.”
He adds that he listened to Fela’s songs a long and got attached with one of Femi Kuti’s rework of his father “Water no get enemy.”
“I needed to get back on track and got connected to “water no get enemy” which Femi sang in memory of Fela. I listened to it a lot and selected it when I was getting into the ring in the refight. It brought back the feeling and spirit to reclaim my glory”
Another reason for returning to his roots, AJ notes is to give back what he has gained.