Joshua in Jamaica's corner - British world champ sees bright destiny for nation's boxing
Unified World heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, believes Jamaica will again produce some of the world's finest boxers as he labelled the island as a "breeding ground for great athletes".
Joshua, whose last fight was a technical knockout victory on September 22 against Russian Alexander Povetkin, is vacationing in the island.
In an exclusive interview with The Gleaner from the ultra-luxurious Destiny Villa - a getaway measuring 10,000 square feet, located on five acres of gently sloping land with a panoramic sea view in Montego Bay - the British fighter says things are being put in place to develop the country's raw talent in boxing again.
"Jamaica has some of the strongest men, some of the fastest men, the best food, and the sun. This place is a breeding ground for some of the best athletes," Joshua said. "In Montego Bay, Lennox Lewis just opened up a boxing gym, and I am sure many more will come. I know there are many boxers with Jamaican descent in the UK (United Kingdom) who will also give back."
He said that boxing is a great avenue to reform at-risk youth in society and he hopes they will take the opportunities when they are presented.
"Boxing is a sport where what you put in is what you get out, and this is a good platform for them to make something of themselves," he said. "What I am doing to help them is to be among them and show them that there can be another way out."
Last week, the 29-year-old took a break from his vacation to visit the Haile Selassie High School in Payneland, Kingston, to motivate the students, as well as to inform them about his plans to invest in the school's educational programme.
"My good friend from London has been doing some charity work in Africa and the Caribbean. Haile Selassie High School is one of the projects that he has taken up, and he asked me to go down there and talk to the students," Joshua said. "I plan to invest some money in it as well. What we are going to do is build up some fences around the school, build the library, and put some technology in there where the kids from Africa can communicate with the kids from Jamaica."
Joshua regards Jamaica as his favourite vacation spot, listing the island's fare and fair as two of the main attractions.
"My experience so far is great. I am definitely going to put this holiday up there in my top three, and right now, it is riding the wave of being number one. I love the food, I love the energy, I love the women," Joshua said of the country and the five-bedroom property, which can be viewed on social media at destinyvillajamaica.
"I want to big up Destiny Villa. It's really beautiful with the mountains and the view of the seas, with the beautiful beach. It is a perfect place for a vacation."
Jamaica boasts a rich boxing heritage and has produced several top boxers throughout time.
They include Glen Johnson, who won the light heavyweight title in 2004; Mike McCallum, who held the WBA super welterweight title from 1984-88; Trevor Berbick, who won the WBC heavyweight title in 1986; Nicolas Walters, who held the WBA featherweight title from 2012-15; and Alicia Ashley, a former WBC female world super bantamweight champion.
Joshua holds the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles.