I recently posted a blog about sport being a solution for those finding themselves veering off the straight and narrow and into unacceptable behaviour; I wanted to follow this up by looking at a high profile sports personality who found sport was their saviour.
Both Elena and I were very interested in the sport of fighting, we both recognised the similarities between fighting and tennis, and the benefits that sport can give to young children.
While we were on the WTA World Tour, Elena took full advantage of a player event commitment run by the WTA, which was attending a Muay Thai tournament in Thailand. We were both very impressed with the young fighters, their discipline and level of skill.
The person I wanted to focus on is Anthony Joshua, currently the unified World Champion, holding the IBF, WBA and IBO titles.
This is an incredible achievement in itself, but anyone with a knowledge of the fighting world knows that what makes this near to a minor miracle is the fact that Anthony didn’t even start boxing until he was 18. As an ex fighter, I find this mind blowing.
To put this into perspective, Floyd Mayweather started boxing at the age of 7, Robert Duran at 8, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Lennox Lewis at 12 years old. You could say that these fighters all had between 6-11 years head start on Anthony, which is a massive amount of time in terms of sports skill development.
Anthony would be the first to admit that he has not always been the great role model that he is today – he had a list of criminal behaviour that doesn’t make good reading, and had previously remanded in Reading Prison for fighting, possession of cannabis, and supplying class B drugs.
It could have all been so different if he had not committed 100% to a sport.
Sport embeds certain aspects into your life, focus, routine, mental and physical discipline, all great elements that protect young people from the negative temptations in life.
Anthony Joshua is not the only young man to be saved by sport, the list is endless, I believe the earlier a child adds sport to their life, the better.