Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, the IBF, WBA and IBO heavyweight champion has recalled how the disciplines he received at Mayflower boarding school, Ikenne, Ogun State, Nigeria, for just six months positively impacted his boxing career.
In 2002, Joshua joined his Nigerian mother Yeta in the African nation for six months at the age of 11 and attended Mayflower school, Ikenne founded by the late educationist, Dr. Tai Solarin.
Joshua and his family later returned to the UK, and he resumed the path that led to him to greatness today.
‘I thought I was going there (Nigeria) on holiday,’ said the 27-year-old who also has an Irish-Nigerian father, Robert.
‘I wasn’t prepared for it. It was a boarding school as well.
‘At the time you think ‘Why?’, but as you get older you think it was good that you experienced it. It was good for me.
‘I think my mum was trying to do some business there; maybe she had it in her mind. You don’t just randomly decide to move there. She might have been thinking about it, but didn’t inform us because we were kids. We stayed out there, not long, only six months.
‘It was a change and I thought I was going to go for the full course: 5.30am in the morning, up fetch your water, put like an iron in your water to warm it up. Your clothes had to be washed and ironed.
Joshua originally thought he was going on holiday but ended up staying six months
‘It wasn’t an issue but I wasn’t prepared. It was a good discipline.
‘We got beaten. That’s my culture: beating. The government raises your kids now; parents aren’t allowed to raise their kids, because there is so much control about what you do or what you say. In the (Nigerian) culture it’s family, outside support; everyone has a role in raising the kids.’
Joshua, last visited Nigeria – where he still has family in Lagos – 13 years ago.
‘I thought I was in heaven (when I returned to England),’ said Joshua, who continues to be linked with having a future fight in his mother’s homeland.
‘(But) when you are in sport you become a representation of people. I’ve got it (an outline of Nigeria) tattooed on my arm, so people can relate to me.
‘I don’t know if (a fight there) will happen.’