Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua believes boxing should be brought back into schools to help pupils learn about discipline and keeping fit.
Joshua, who was raised in Watford, left education at the age of 18 and by his own admission, went down the wrong path. He was arrested for possession of cannabis in 2011 but went on to claim Olympic gold the following year.
Joshua feels boxing would help improve the behaviour of pupils and says the sport “shaped me and made me the man I am today”.
The 24-year-old met up with a group of 12-year-olds as part of Sky Sports Game Changers to put them through their paces at a gym and believes the skills they learnt would help them at school.
“I left education at 18 and since then boxing has taught me to do my own research, both in books and online, and to generally keep sharp mentally,” Joshua explained.
“I’d love to see boxing brought back into schools in some form.
“It doesn’t have to be sparring or full contact boxing. Pad work, skipping, drills, bag work – they’re all good for encouraging better behaviour and are better ways of living your life.
“It teaches you right from wrong but also what hard work is really about. If you want something you have to work hard and put the hours in, not just expect it to happen. You get out what you put into life.”
Since winning gold at London 2012, Joshua has gone on to turn professional and has made a promising start with four victories – the last of which came against Dorian Darch at the start of the month.
Joshua, who trained at Finchley ABC before turning professional, has set his sights on becoming world heavyweight champion but says he is very aware of being a role model for future British fighters.
He said: “It’s important to do your best to inspire young people; we don’t want a lost generation. The kids of today are the leaders of tomorrow, they will inspire other people, maybe even my future children.
“That’s why it’s important to always remember that it’s more than just punching a bag, it’s about working hard, doing your homework, being in bed on time, getting up when you’re supposed to and, of course, getting enough exercise.
“I have had advice from Lennox Lewis as I’ve been on my journey in boxing, and his words have always stuck with me. I think that’s similar to the kids today.
“It’s interesting because a lot of kids can relate to my story and know where I’ve come from, I may even be able to relate to them more, I mean I’m only 24.”
Joshua’s fifth professional fight will be against Hectzor Avila on March 1 in Glasgow.