September 10, 2015
September 10, 2015
Anthony Joshua

Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom

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JOHN OLIVER
TRAINER AT FINCHLEY ABC

HE was just a class act from day one. It’s a dream for every trainer, doesn’t matter who it is, they are looking for that type of fighter to come through the door. I’ve never seen anybody like that. I go right the way back to the days of Cassius Clay, I was boxing myself in those days. I was in the gymnasium when Cassius Clay walked in and I’d never seen anyone with the kind of physique Clay had, until Anthony Joshua walked into the gym. The movement, the ability, it’s just natural – you can’t train that.

He was always asking questions as well. He was just one of those boys that developed all the time. If he was 100 per cent, he wanted to be 110 per cent. He studies boxing, but he’s an athlete, he’s not just a boxer. He is very, very fast on his feet, he dances well, moves well.

When he first walked in the gym, it was about six years ago, I was in awe, especially when he was getting ready. I took him on the pads and gave him the basics and I said to him, “Where have you been boxing?” He said, “I haven’t.” I said, “Come on you must have been somewhere,” so he told me he’d been messing around with a couple of mates but he hadn’t done any boxing.

He’s a natural athlete, everything came to him very quickly.

We had a big team at Finchley. Sean Murphy, who also trained him, was in the corner. There were a lot of trainers and Joshua learnt from all of us. That’s what I told him from day one – whatever trainer you talk to, they will all teach you something. Try and learn something off of everybody and put it to use.

I noticed his power from day one. Sean took him on the pads once and he broke Sean’s hand, smashed it. It’s just one of those things, it’s natural power. He started boxing quite late, he was about 19, so when you consider what he won in four or five years, it’s incredible. Most amateur boxers take 10, 12 years to do that.

TONY SIMS
CURRENT TRAINER

HE’S made the transition from amateur to professional boxing tremendously well. He’s a great athlete. But no one has really tested him yet so it’s hard to say. Until we start seeing someone pushing him over 10 or 12 rounds, we won’t see what he’s really made of.

In the gym you can see that he’s progressing well though. From last year to this year, he’s become much more relaxed, he’s not as stiff and rigid as when he first turned over and he’s letting his punches go, his speed and accuracy have improved, his movement is good.

He’s always eager to learn, he always asks everyone in the team a lot of questions. He’s a very intelligent man. He’s become quite a historian of boxing as well, he’s learning a lot about the old fighters, he watches a lot of films and footage. He’s an eager student. He’s always asking questions of everybody, he’s got quite a big coaching team around him, a physiotherapist, a nutritionist and a strength and conditioning coach, so he’s always asking everyone a hundred questions a day, he’s very inquisitive. He’s eager to learn about everything, not just about boxing but about life as well. I’ve seen him progress as a person, as a man as well, and he’s got a great future ahead of him. Everyone loves a heavyweight and everyone’s excited, but at the moment, in my eyes, he’s a 13-fight novice.

His fights have been short but they’ve been scheduled for eight or 10 rounds, so the team gets him in great shape. He does 12-round spars, so he knows he can do it in the gym but doing it in the gym and doing it on the night are two completely different things. He does 12 rounds in the gym with ease, so gym-wise he’s in great condition. Sometimes, if and when his fights end early, I’ll take him on the pads for a few rounds, but it depends on what sort of mood he’s in.

There have been slight changes in the whole of his make-up since he turned professional, but it’s more to do with endurance. He’s had to learn to slip and slide and take his time with what he’s doing rather than rushing his work. He tried to land scoring blows as an amateur but now he’s putting his full weight behind his punches, he’s sitting down on them more. He already had the power and the size and he’s got good balance that was always there, so it was more about teaching him to take his time and pacing himself.