By Alex Pattle
Anthony Joshua discusses about a “massive” fight he had with “six guys” in the street, how he started smoking marijuana when he was just 13 and was smoking six times a day.
It is well documented that Joshua got himself into trouble when he was younger and was even briefly kicked off the GB Olympic team in 2011 when police found cannabis in his car.
He was charged with possession with intent to supply a class B drug and received a non-custodial sentence of 100 hours of unpaid work and a 12-month community order.
Joshua details how boxing helped him focus his energies into fulfilling the promise he showed in the ring.
“If you can’t get the distractions out of your life, you can’t get your full attention on improving as an athlete,” he says.
“For me, when I stopped smoking I was able to progress.”
Joshua, a former two-time world heavyweight champion, is the subject of the 7 November episode of Louis Theroux Interviews, in which “AJ” discusses his upbringing, boxing career and future plans.
In the opening segment of the episode, Theroux asks the 34-year-old: “Can I see your hands? Are those little marks from boxing?”
“Well, this one is,” Joshua replies, before Theroux adds: “What about on your knuckles?”
“You know, funny enough…” Joshua begins. “I’m not a troublesome person, I’ll be honest with you – far from troublesome – but I used to get in fights, and my skin hasn’t healed too well.
“So, this knuckle… I was going to get chicken one evening, and I ended up fighting six guys on my own. And that was just like massive – really good scrap. And I think this [one] is from the same time.”
When asked if he ever put anyone in hospital, Joshua replies: “No, no, no, no. In a coffin. No, I’m joking!”
Much of the episode focuses on Joshua’s points win over Jermaine Franklin in April, when the Briton bounced back from two straight losses to Oleksandr Usyk. AJ has since fought again, knocking out Robert Helenius in August.
Anthony Joshua still lives with his mum, is tired of living up to other people’s expectation of him and once fought six men in a single fight.
Joshua, 34, sits down with Theroux at his first gym in Finchley and welcomes him along to his comeback fight against Jermaine Franklin last April.
There is a must be seen to be believed rap battle between the fighter and film-maker, but also a candid interview where Joshua reveals he is still determined to reclaim a world championship.
He is also keenly aware he cannot live up to everyone’s expectations of him.
“Are we going to dissect everything I say and use it as a narrative to create a story? That’s why I keep myself to myself,” Joshua says.
“You put all this pressure on yourself to come and be this big star and be perfect.
“I’m telling you, they’ll pull you down. The higher you are, the bigger the drop.”
Joshua is ‘Femi’ to his family
Joshua takes Theroux to visit Watford’s Meriden estate, where he grew up in, and they sit down with his aunt.
The boxer is known to the wider world as Joshua or ‘AJ’, but he explains that only began when he started boxing.
“All of a sudden it’s like ‘this is Anthony Joshua’, [but] everyone [here] knows me as ‘Femi’,” he says.
“Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua [is my full name]. But everyone called me ‘Femi’.”
Joshua says he is able to “separate the two”, and his aunt says Anthony is the boxer while ‘Femi’ is the man.
“‘Femi’ is my nephew, my son,” she says. “[For] people in the world, it’s Anthony the boxer. ‘Femi’ comes first.”
AJ once fought six guys at once
So often tight-lipped about his younger years, Joshua opens up more in the episode, explaining to Theroux how some of his knuckles came to be scarred.
“I used to get in fights a lot when I was younger,” he says.
“My skin doesn’t heal too well. This knuckle, I went to get chicken one evening and I ended up fighting six guys on my own.”
Later on, Joshua says he is aware of the damage boxing can leave on a fighter and suggests that could be why he has changed his fighting style to a more considered approach.
“There’s this stigma that ‘AJ can’t take a punch, AJ’s afraid of getting hit’,” he says.
“My goal is to not get knocked out. My goal is to knock out my opponents. Because I’ll never shut my brain down for the love of the sport.
“No way, because I know the sport won’t love you back.”
Joshua still lives with his mum
Louis Theroux Interviews Anthony Joshua – the trailer
Despite earning millions from his boxing career, Joshua says he is still a family man at heart.
“I still live with my mum. In our culture, we grew up in our own family home, we support our parents. Why am I going to move out and leave my mum by herself, for some girl?” he says.
“Family is the most important thing. When a girl gets with me, she ain’t just marrying me, she’s marrying my family.”
Usyk loss reaction was about ‘ego and pride’
Joshua breaks down in his post-fight press conference after loss to Usyk
Joshua reacted furiously to his loss to Oleksandr Usyk in their rematch last year. The heavyweight threw the world titles out of the ring and broke down in tears in the post-fight news conference.
Theroux questions Joshua about the incident, clearly hitting a nerve.
“That was an ego and pride thing coming out. I brought this heavyweight division back – that was in me. Right or wrong, probably wrong,” Joshua says before Theroux interrupts him.
“Probably wrong. I don’t think anyone says it was the right thing to do,” Theroux says.
“You asked me a question and I’m answering it,” Joshua replies.
“So I threw [the belts] because that’s what I felt like. I grabbed the mic, I addressed the crowd. Could I have done it better? Of course I could have.
“I had finished a 12-round fight. I felt frustrated and annoyed. I knew I was out of the title race.
“The questions started. ‘What is he like, where’s his head at?’ All this ‘can he be three-time champion of the world?’
“People create this narrative and put pressure on me. It’s too much. Gone are the days where it was for the fun. When you’re just doing it for the passion, you’re a prospect.”