Elena with a young Muay Thai fighter in Thailand
I recently posted a blog about sport being a solution for those finding themselves steering off the straight and narrow and into unacceptable behavior; I wanted to follow this up by using a high profile sports personality who found sport as their saviour.
Both Elena and I were very interested in the sport of fighting, we both recognised the similarities between fighting and tennis, and both of us recognised 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, who currently is the unified World Champion, holding IBF, WBA and IBO titles.
This in itself is an incredible achievement, but for anyone who comes from the fighting business will know, what makes this near to a minor miracle, is the fact that Anthony did not start boxing until he was 18 and for me, as an ex fighter, this is mind blowing.
To put this into perspective, Floyd Mayweather started when he was 7, Robert Duran at 8, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Lenox Lewis were all 12, these fighters had between 6-11 years head start on Anthony, that’s a massive amount of time in terms of sport skill development.
Great memories of the England fighters at crystal Palace, during an England training camp
Anthony would be the first to admit that he has not always been the great role model that he is today with a list of criminal behavior that does not make good reading, remanded in Reading Prison for fighting, possession of cannabis, supplier of 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.