Anthony Joshua: A boxer goes beyond the ring

Written by Staff Writer by Zahra Wells, CNN

For much of the buildup to his fight with Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua has been working to consolidate his growing reputation as one of the sport’s super-elite.

Despite advancing the prospect of breaking two records by battling for heavyweight titles against three different opponents at once, the British heavyweight is, at heart, a humble athlete.

“You have to make sacrifices to be the champion,” he says in “Joshua’s Men,” a documentary released this week in which he speaks to fans about his history-making 2018. “And a lot of people wouldn’t understand it.

“So a lot of my training goes beyond the box office.”

But back in 2016, it seems Joshua only knew just how big the sacrifices were.

As viewers will see in the above video, the 30-year-old was looking to get fit at a sports boot camp, when he came across a group of strongmen — and there was a surprise waiting for him.

As the his measured and measured words are picked apart in slow motion — not to mention belabored to oblivion by the peak-force impact of boxes, ropes and bikes — the filmmaker then cuts to Joshua lying face down on a packed boxing ring.

For Joshua, it was no surprise that he emerged from the discovery a fortnight later, with a 10-1 victory over his opponents.

Yet if his face-down moment could be interpreted in one of two ways, it might come as a surprise that they aren’t viewed as two equally awful plans for his future.

In one version of this story, Joshua’s coaches tell him to secure his spot in the all-time greats by lifting the Olympic gold medal in Rio 2016. He does this and is crowned king of all. In the other, he is stripped of the gold medal that he won in what he knows to be an illegal manner.

From the hours spent busking and eating a blanket of freeze-dried food for his notorious pre-fight weigh-in, to being handed the keys to London’s illustrious royal box, Joshua bids farewell. And the moment he’s ready for his title-lifting adventure in Rio, the dream seems to be over.

Instead, Joshua is left with the prospect of an uncertain future, as his coach casually mentions his potential to move up to cruiserweight, where he still holds a world title.

“Boxing is like school,” he says. “You have to go through the same physical lessons.”

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