Anthony Joshua has opened up on the mental pressure of boxing at an elite level, and admitted that his most recent loss ‘tore him apart.’
Following his second defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, Joshua took the microphone and emotionally rambled. His actions were the focus of media coverage and internet memes for weeks to come.
Many commentators called it obnoxious and chastised Joshua for taking away from Usyk’s moment, but others saw it for what it was – a man who had trained for years to be the best in the world facing the realisation that, in that moment, he wasn’t.
In an interview with DAZN, Joshua has opened up about how he felt post-fight, as well as the mental pressure of superstardom in general.
“You saw after my last fight. I swear to you, [it] just tore me apart. I had so much riding on it for me, the British fans, the undisputed fight. It just really tore me apart, so from a mental capacity, my close ones are telling me you should rest mentally. Physically I’m down to ride. I’m a warrior. I like this game, I like competing, but on a mental aspect I think people are really seeing that this means a lot.”
“Even if I’m not fighting I see my name getting called out everyday. So, it’s the mental pressure that’s being AJ as well. And obviously holding up a reputation as well, these type of things go hand in hand. It’s tough, man.”
Even by discussing it, ‘AJ’ seems to be in a better place – and perhaps the slightly more extended period out of the ring will serve him well. We expect him to return to the sport early next year, with old foe Dillian Whyte top of the list to be in the other corner.
He’s not the first boxer to discuss mental health and the effects the sport can have on wellbeing, but more conversation about such a crucial subject is always welcome.