HomeEntertainmentCelebritiesAnthony Joshua's ex-trainer knew heavyweight star was "special" after just one session

Anthony Joshua’s ex-trainer knew heavyweight star was “special” after just one session

Tony Sims casts his mind back to the day a young Anthony Joshua stepped foot in his Essex gym for the very first time.

Joshua was still riding high from his London 2012 gold-medal victory and was now ready to embark on a new journey with Sims.

The renowned British trainer knew he was dealing with a star from the beginning.

“As soon as he walked into the gym Joshua had something special about him,” Sims recounts the story in a conversation with Daily Star Sport.

Anthony Joshua, British boxer, at Finchley Boxing Club, 23rd October 2013
Tony Sims casts his mind back to the day a young Anthony Joshua stepped foot in his Essex gym for the very first time

“We watched him in the Olympics and he had that aura about him. You’ve only got to look at his first professional fight, I think he sold out 10,000 at the O2 Arena. So he’s always had that something special.

“Big superstars do have that about them. You can see that all of the great heavyweights throughout history have that kind of aura when they walk into rooms. Joshua has that aura immediately.

Are you sure that Anthony Joshua will defeat Oleksandr Usyk? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Anthony Joshua celebrates his victory over Emanuele Leo during their Heavyweight bout at O2 Arena on October 5, 2013 in London, England
Sims (second from left) knew Joshua had superstar potential straight away

“You could see then that he was going to be a great fighter and potentially champion of the world.”

Of course, Sims’ gut feeling was bang on the money.

Joshua’s rapid rise to the top in heavyweight has been remarkable over the past eight year. He won his first 15 fights, captured a world title, unified the division in 18th, lost his crown in 23rd and then instantly reclaimed it in 24th.

He has also become the most popular fighter in world boxing today.

Anthony Joshua tours the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after the Announcement that his next fight will be there on September 25th against Oleksandr Usyk for the Unified Heavyweight Championship of the World
AJ has gone on to become a unified heavyweight champion and the most marketable fighter in world boxing

Anthony Joshua and Tony Sims
Sims was the Watford man’s lead trainer for his first 17 contests and worked in his corner for 22

Anthony Joshua's ex-trainer knew heavyweight star was "special" after just one session

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Sims was only involved with 22 of those steps. He was the lead trainer for 17 of his victories.

Joshua’s win over Dominic Breazeale, June 2016, was his second defense of his IBF title. Joshua replaced him with Rob McCracken, Team GB mastermind – though Tony remained in the corner team for five of the fights.

AJ has been a household name since his historic victory over Wladimirklitschko in April 2017, which was his second fight under McCracken. He enjoys an unrivalled level of popularity.

Anthony Joshua makes his way to the ring prior to the BF, WBA Super, WBO & IBO World Heavyweight Championship title fight between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium
AJ’s name alone has sold out football stadiums across the country over the past four years

That’s not to say he is without an army of naysayers and critics. Who isn’t?

Some people think that Joshua’s charming, friendly image is just a TV show. Sims is a different story.

“From what I knew of him in the gym with me, he was always a lovely man,” He adds.

He says, “How he appears on camera is basically what he is offline.”

Tony Sims
Despite his high profile, Sims insists Joshua is a “lovely man” away from the cameras

“He’s a nice man, always laughing and joking. But when he needs to do his work he does it, so he’s a good guy to train with.

“I’ve always thought there’s never really been an act with him. He is a great guy.”

Many believe the toughest test of Joshua’s heavyweight career awaits him in north London this Saturday.

Under the bright lights at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, packed out with 60,000 spectators, the man from Watford will defend his unified titles against Ukrainian southpaw Oleksandr Usyk – the former undisputed cruiserweight champion.

Anthony Joshua and Oleksander Usyk Final Press Conference ahead of their World Heavyweight Title clash on saturday night at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London
Joshua is set to defend his unified heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday

Usyk’s expert ring IQ and technical mastery set him apart from the rest down at cruiserweight. He boxed rings with credible opponents, who were meant to threaten his dominance and drag him into deep waters.

The 34-year old has been criticized for his move to heavyweight. After a slow start, Usyk won over Chazz Witherspoon, a rank underdog. Then, he defeated Derek Chisora in a tough fight.

Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine looks on in the fourth round of his Heavyweight bout against Chazz Witherspoon
Usyk’s heavyweight credentials will be tested like never before

That pair of testing wins whipped up an air of uncertainty regarding his credentials as a heavyweight, and Sims isn’t convinced he will provide Joshua’s sternest challenge yet.

He says: “I think Joshua’s had bigger tests. Klitschko was obviously a massive test for him at the time.

“That’s not saying Usyk isn’t a good fighter, he’s never been beaten. I don’t think he can go from a cruiserweight to a heavyweight.

“Chisora exposed that a little bit, a lot of people thought he won. I thought it could’ve gone either way.

Anthony Joshua's ex-trainer knew heavyweight star was "special" after just one session
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“Usyk did well in the early rounds and Chisora came on strong in the later rounds.

“But comparing Anthony Joshua to Derek Chisora, there’s no comparison. Joshua stands 6ft 6in and is a formidable machine. His right hand – which seems to be catching Usyk — is also phenomenal.

“When he catches you with it it’s game over.”

Fans and pundits agree that Joshua must impose his strength in Saturday’s fight, make his physical superiority count, and avoid a chess match with Usyk.

Oleksandr Usyk will take on Anthony Joshua with a shaved head in north London this weekend
Sims struggles to see how Usyk will topple Joshua

Sims – who now trains the likes of Conor Benn, Ted Cheeseman and John Ryder – believes it could very well start out that way, but he’s in no doubt about the end result.

“I personally don’t see any way that Usyk is gonna win this fight or even last the distance,” He insists. “Once it goes past the midway point, Joshua’s gonna connect and the fight will be done.

“He insists that it will be somewhat like a match of chess. Because if you take a look at Usyk’s fight with Joe Joyce, the first three rounds are where he was very difficult to land any shots.

Anthony Joshua talks to the press during the Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk Press Conference at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 23, 2021 in London
He believes his ex-fighter will be far too strong

“But obviously when you’re in with a big guy like Joshua, it’s really hard to keep them at bay. He’s got long arms, he’s very tall and he punches very hard.

“At first Usyk will try to keep away from him and he’ll be hard to pin down, but there’s only so long you can do that before Joshua catches up with you.

“Once it goes past the halfway mark, I think Joshua will start catching him and it’ll be game over.”

Anthony Joshua's ex-trainer knew heavyweight star was "special" after just one session
Anurag Reddy
I'm a 29-year-old travel enthusiast, travel and nature photographer, Computer Science graduate, and Mass Communication student. I have seen different shades of life through traveling and lived different lives through reading. With every word I write, I travel within, and I understand myself better. Writing helps me discover myself, and that paved roads for me to choose writing as a profession.


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