Britain’s Olympic Super Heavyweight gold medalist Anthony Joshua made his way to the Rio 2016 boxing competition on Monday to soak up some of the atmosphere, four years after his unforgettable win at London 2012. Clearly enjoying the warm Brazilian welcome, he talked to AIBA about the unique appeal and impact of the Olympic Games and how his experience has helped shape his career since.
Does being here bring back good memories from London?
You know, in London I wasn’t really ready for it all. I’d only been boxing for three years and I was at the Olympics, in this purpose built arena full of British fans. It was the same as it is here for the Brazilian boxers, the venue was packed.
What is it about the Olympics that is so special?
Its not just about the size of the occasion, the Olympics is giving opportunities to people who haven’t even left their country before, it really broadens horizons, it shows that what you are doing reaches places that you may not even know existed. It’s more than just about the sport, its bringing people together. Just getting here for an athlete is one of the most important things. If you win, you go back to the gym a winner. If you lose, you go back to the gym. You just have to enjoy it.
How did AIBA help prepare you for your current success?
It is so important to have these kind of foundations behind you. These guys box the same as the pros, they live like pros, this isn’t an amateur sport now. This environment helps you get thick-skinned and toughened, going through the Europeans and the World Championships. It meant I know my purpose and my routine and what I have to do to get the results. Having the support of AIBA and my coaches in Sheffield has shaped my career. I’m really happy I had the opportunity to become an Olympic athlete.
How do you see the assimilation of pro boxers from outside of AIBA and the removal of headguards for Rio 2016?
Introducing the pros is good, it’s a change. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an impact it has in Tokyo. But its like I said, these guys are all pros now really, so the assimilation is a good thing. With the headguards, it means it is no longer just about red versus blue, the spectators can really know the boxers. With or without protection you are still going to get hit, and you learn to deal with it.
It is great to see the men’s and women’s competitions side by side for the second time.
I’ve been watching the women on the TV and they are in line with some of the men. I think women box with a different attitude, less ego. They box with passion. Katie Taylor is incredible, Nicola Adams Claressa Shields, there is some real good talent and they will inspire more girls.
Do you think the British Lions’ WSB success has helped the GB team here in Rio?
I think it has made them harder and given them more experience. The WSB is like a mini-Olympics, you have to win the whole tournament. Its big, its new, there’s a lot of pressure. For the years leading up to Rio they have been boxing these guys through WSB, so the experience is all there.