Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) has revealed that some rough experiences while at boarding school in Nigeria toughened him up and have helped him hone an edge as he bids to defend his IBF world title against former Champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) at Wembley Stadium on April 29, the vacant WBA Super World title belt will also be on the line. The 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist spent some time in Nigeria as an 11-year-old and had to attend school there, which was a lot different than his experiences of the U.K. school system.
“Every morning we would be woken up at 5.30 and then we had to fetch water,” he said when speaking to Ron Lewis of The Times. “You had to heat the water up by putting a hot iron in it, then you had to make sure all your school clothes were cleaned and ironed. The discipline was tough. Sometimes the whole block would just get punished. It might be the cane, or you would stand and squat and hold it for 30 minutes. It was tough.”
He added: “We got beaten, but that’s my culture, beating. The [British] government raise your kids now, parents aren’t allowed to raise their kids, because there is so much control about what you do or what you say. In [Nigerian] culture it’s family, outside support, everyone has a role in raising the kids. I wasn’t prepared for it. I thought I was going there on holiday. I think my mum was trying to do some business there, maybe she had it in her mind. You don’t just randomly decide to move there. She might have been thinking about it but didn’t inform us because we were kids. At the time you think, ‘Why?’ but as you get older you think it was good that you experienced it. It was good for me.”
Despite this, the 27-year-old feels a strong affinity with Africa, he has a tattoo of the continent on his arm, and has stated his ambition to fight there someday, providing of course that he gets past Klitschko in what is the first major test of his professional career.