WORLD heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua has made a substantial donation to boxing gyms in the UK in the wake of his recent defence of his four belts as his contribution to prevent them going out of business as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this month at the SSE Arena at Wembley Stadium, Joshua knocked out Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round to retain his World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) titles. Joshua downed his Bulgarian opponent three times before finally delivering the finishing blow in the ninth round.
With a unification fight against World Boxing Council (WBC) holder Tyson Fury expected next year, Joshua has acted on his victory by supporting the boxing industry. Himself a product of local gyms who enabled him to come through the amateur ranks and win an Olympic medal at the 20123 London Olympic Games, Joshua has decided to save some of them from going bust.
Numerous amateur gyms across the UK have been forced to shut temporarily through the lockdown and Joshua is concerned that many amateur boxers will have to hang up their gloves if some were to close permanently. Joshua is the latest high-profile boxing personality to voice his fears following that of his promoter Eddie Hearn and Northern Ireland’s former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
Joshua said:. “Boxing helped shape me, both physically and mentally. It is no secret that without boxing and the family created around my amateur gym, my life could have been very different.
“The sport has given me a lot and I want to help highlight the issues affecting grassroots clubs and do what I can to keep the lights on for those most in need. I am not using this as an opportunity to criticise government for its lack of funding towards boxing but these are unprecedented times, however, so I would like to use my platform to respectfully ask them to rethink their stance as without support we will lose community hubs and potentially the stars of tomorrow.”
This funding contributed by Joshua will be distributed to clubs via England Boxing, Welsh Boxing and Boxing Scotland. Kevin Bell, the chairman of Boxing Scotland, praised Joshua for not forgetting his roots.
He added: “It is to Anthony’s great credit that he recognises the impact of Covid-19 on amateur boxing, from loss of training among boxers to the inability to host shows that sustain clubs financially. It is also the hallmark of a true world and Olympic champion that he has proactively sought to help amateur boxing, which he acknowledges played a significant role in his career, during this ongoing period of uncertainty.”