Anthony Joshua broke new ground by becoming the unified heavyweight champion of the world between 2016 and 2019. The Watford-born boxer has always been a massive football fan, and accredits his winning mentality to his inspirations, such as Cristiano Ronaldo.
As Anthony Joshua stood on the five-a-side pitch at Shoreditch’s Power League, a smile cracked across his face. For all the heavyweight boxer’s achievements, he still appears at his happiest when taking to the pitch with a ball at his feet.
Joshua’s East London appearance came by way of being asked by EA SPORTS to design his own FIFA VOLTA FOOTBALL-inspired pitch. Given he’s a huge football fan, AJ jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the project, which also saw EA donate 250 hours of free playing time to the local community.
“Street football – VOLTA FOOTBALL in FIFA 20 – is all about real people playing football,” Joshua recently told Versus. “With community at the heart of it, that’s a big part of who I am. We’ve linked with EA SPORTS and designed a pitch here in Shoreditch and we’ve called it The Lion’s Den.”
As expected, Joshua’s design takes inspiration from his career. The backboards are adorned with a lion’s head, which sits proudly either side of two compass illustrations – paying homage to the athlete’s multicultural roots.
Joshua was a gifted footballer as a child, even having trials with Charlton Athletic. He regularly plays recreationally with his mates when off training, citing the game as one of his biggest interests away from boxing.
In fact, football was actually a bigger passion for AJ than boxing until his teenage years. Speaking to The Telegraph, he admitted: “I didn’t start boxing when I was 10 or 11 years old. I started when I was 18.”
This made it all the more incredible to see Joshua come through Great Britain’s boxing ranks and climb his way to the summit of international sport. Part of what sets the fighter apart from others is his tunnel-visioned mindset.
During an interview with Virgin Radio in 2017, Joshua explained that while he has big respect for his hometown club, Watford, the team he actually follows closet is Real Madrid. “My overall favourite, because of the one man, is Cristiano Ronaldo, so I’m going to roll with Real Madrid.”
Beyond his obvious talent, Joshua’s admiration for Ronaldo stems from the player’s own mindset – being able to block everything else out and focus solely on becoming the best in the world. One look at AJ’s career thus far shows the pair undoubtedly have that in common.
After being dethroned by Andy Ruiz Jr., Joshua is now hungrier than ever to reclaim his titles. With a local community at heart, and his unrelenting mentality behind him, you surely wouldn’t back against him.