“Without Grassroots Boxing, There Is No Anthony Joshua”
World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has disclosed that without grassroots boxing, he would not have become a boxer himself.
The 2012 London Olympic gold medallist stated this on the backdrop of his funding amateur boxing in England.
Joshua who last week defeated Kubrat Pulev to retain his belt has made a substantial donation to help fund amateur boxing in Britain – saying he hopes “we have not lost the next generation” of fighters.
Some clubs have closed and boxing was not included on a list of sports that received a £300m bailout in November.
Briton Joshua, 31, gave a six-figure sum to the amateur boxing federations of England, Wales and Scotland.
“Without grassroots boxing, there is no Anthony Joshua,” he said.
“The doors to these gyms are always open to any kid from any background,” Joshua, who turned professional after winning Olympic gold at London 2012, told BBC sports.
“If I was 18 again and I was in a position where the gym was closed and it might not open, I would be devastated.
Listen to the full interview with Joshua on the Bunce & Costello podcast
“It’s not just financial help. I will often try and motivate these kids by being among them, bringing my belts down and training with them.
“I believe in the next 10-15 years, you are going to see the leaders of tomorrow, but I hope it’s not 25-30 years because we have lost this next generation.”
Funding will be provided to the clubs most in need.
Gethin Jenkins, chairman of England Boxing, said: “We are delighted and we thank Anthony for this much-needed financial support and for drawing attention to the role and support the clubs offer in their local communities and with it the need for greater government support to grassroots boxing clubs.”
Although boxing was not included in the government’s bailout last month, Sport England has distributed £2.5m to local clubs since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Joshua first became world champion in 2016 when he beat American Charles Martin to win the IBF title.