April 29th 2017, Wembley Stadium. 90,000 fans descend on the home of English football to witness two heavyweight giants go toe to toe in the boxing ring; Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko. The build up to the fight captured attention from all over the globe, with millions of boxing fans waiting in anticipation to see what was about to be one of the greatest events in the sports history.
For a lot of critics this fight seemed to come too early for Joshua. It was often said that he’d never really been tested in the ring and lacked experience compared to his opponent who’d dominated the heavyweight division for so many years.
With a sell-out Wembley Stadium and millions watching around the world, the eagerly awaited fight got underway. The bout definitely lived up to its expectation with both contenders giving their all. Although Joshua was winning the majority of rounds on points, round 6 saw the tables turn and the nation held their breath as Klitschko delivered a punch that saw AJ hit the canvas.
“The mental is as important as the physical. That voice in your head telling you to keep going, to delve deep in to your character. You have to make sure that if your body wants to stop, your mind won’t let you.”
“I put the hours in, work harder and smarter than my opponents, but that counts for nothing, if my head is not in peak condition. Your body can be hurt and tested, but your will must be invincible.”
Anthony Joshua WBA/IBO/IBF Champion
As a big fan of Joshua myself and lucky enough to be one of the 90,000 in Wembley Stadium, like many others I was on the edge of my seat anticipating whether he’d be able to get up and recover from the powerful blow Klitschko had just delivered. For so long we’ve seen AJ dominate the ring and for the first time in his career, his 100% win record was hanging in the balance.
A big part of Joshua’s image is his physique. Standing at an impressive 6ft 4″ and weighing over 17 stone, his stature is sure to intimidate anyone he steps in the ring with. Being an athlete of this standard takes months of hard work, training and of course a healthy diet but this isn’t going to prepare Joshua for the mental side of a fight.
In a fight that means so much not only to Joshua, but a nation of sporting fans, how does he pick himself up and fight through not only a physical battle but also a mental one too? The mind is a powerful thing, you can be physically ready for anything, a boxing match, football game or even a marathon but you need to be mentally prepared for when the voice in your head is telling you to stop and you’re losing the fire inside.
When your body is exhausted and you’re fighting a mental battle, you start to zone out from the world and in AJ’s situation, potentially forget about the thousands of spectators watching on. I’m sure Joshua wants to win for his fans just as much as he does for himself but during a mental battle, it’s important to forget about the people around you and focus on the job in hand. Fighters walk to the ring with a big team behind them, but when it comes down to it, it’s only the fighter themselves who can physically and mentally win the fight. This is the message behind Under Armour’s video, made in conjunction with the man himself.
“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t”
Jack Dempsey World Heavyweight Champion (1919-1926)
When the mind is taking you to dark places, remember how hard you’ve worked, how far you’ve come and the rewards waiting at the end. The mind is often overlooked and physical condition is prioritised, but the greatest fight is inside.