Custom Search 1

Anthony Joshua's lack of class after Lennox Lewis dig

BANG OUT OF ORDER: Anthony Joshua has lost some respect

THE PROBLEM with your heroes is that they always let you down. Definitely. Without doubt.

Apart from Harry Belafonte, the late Dr Betty Shabazz and Bristol bus boycott hero Paul Stephenson, I cannot think of any of my heroes who have not let me down in some way and somehow over the course of time.

No, not even Nelson Mandela. Human beings let you down – and these superhuman beings we see as heroes let you down superbly.

The latest disappointment is Anthony Joshua. Tears filled my eyes when he won the Olympic gold and gave a shout out to all the ‘soldiers’ who had fallen in the streets.

You really got a sense of a bad boy turned good with humility and a plan to uplift his peer group out of the carnage in our inner-city streets where he had himself lost bonafide friends in the madness. I had utter and total respect for him.


To learn that he is Nigerian and has a tattoo of where he’s from on his upper arm, well you can imagine how made up I was. We Nigerians haven’t had a whole lot to shout about in terms of boxing since the days of Dick Tiger and Hogan Bassey.

I said as much in one of my columns in this very paper. AJ, as far as I was concerned, could do no wrong. Even when he got battered by the overweight boxer Andy Ruiz in the States the other month, my respect was bruised but never KO’d.

But now he’s only gone and lost it in an unnecessary and undignified spat with Lennox Lewis. Joshua called Lewis a ‘clown’. Can you believe that?

“Lennox is a clown. I don’t respect Lennox,” Joshua said. “Me and Lennox are not the same.My legacy is to sit back and enjoy the younger generation coming up, and not to be involved. Just to appreciate what it takes to get there. Lennox isn’t like that. Me and Lennox are cut from a different cloth.”

And what had Lennox done to deserve this very public disrespect? Well, he had the temerity to suggest (publicly) that AJ had not prepared properly to box the overweight Mexican to whom he lost his three belts.

Surely, even AJ would agree with that. Surely, even he would have to concede that. Surely that was apparent for all to see. So why the big diss?

No, I don’t know either. Maybe there is some bigger beef going on underneath the surface that none of us are privy to. But given who Lennox is – the first British boxer to win the World Heavyweight title, you have to give the man respect.

As Rita Marley’s sister, the former reggae DJ Miss P, once said to me: “You’ve got to show your class.”

That’s what Anthony Joshua failed to do. And to have a pop at an aged former champion who, let’s face it, opened the door for British boxers (albeit with a Canadian accent) to become world champions is bang out of order.

We black Brits never had someone to look up to in the ring who we could claim as one of us. Yes, sure Muhammad Ali, sure. But we always knew he was a Yank and didn’t belong to us.

Before Lennox got the title in 1992 we didn’t have a world-beating boxing hero of our own. Has AJ forgotten that? Because we haven’t.

And to suggest that the first British heavyweight is a fool, a chump, an idiot or whatever epithet you choose to use is not only disrespectful, it is self-insulting.

Because if the guy who was the first British heavyweight champion ever is a mug, what does that make you? You are disrespecting the very title that you are trying to regain. Who then, AJ, is the mug?

If it was just a question of that, I would laugh it off. I would say, that interview must have caught AJ in a senior moment when he lost his mind.

However, when you come from the conscious/woke place that I come from and that I thought AJ came from (hence the disappointment when I discover that he is not cut from the same kente cloth – to paraphrase him – as the rest of us who feel that solidarity is what we need in the community) you can’t afford to fight one another in public like that.

Lennox, on the other hand, has been very dignified...and has portrayed himself as the greater statesman. He has responded to being called a ‘clown’ by saying he doesn’t blame Joshua, but the people around AJ. He accepts that AJ is probably sick to the eye teeth of being compared to him. But he’s going to ’llow it.

Now, is that not how we should be behaving as black folk? Instead of calling each other clowns, shouldn’t we just hold it down and try and find the joy in each other? And the common ground, too.

I know it hurts to be criticised, AJ, but Lennox is one of the elders now.

When it comes to boxing he is allowed to shoot his mouth off. It’s no disrespect, AJ, you shouldn’t take it like that.

I shouldn’t have to school you about this because you come from the same African heritage as I do and as most of us do.

And yet when our parents school us and criticise us and, yes, other elders who are not even members of our families do too, we just have to take it, because they don’t mean us any harm or ill will. And, for sure, sometimes it comes across cocky.

You may also have your reservations about the way this or that was said, but we don’t hang our dirty washing in public like that, dude.


You could have just bitten your tongue and gone about your business in public and said “Yadda-yadda-yadda, yeah Lennox yadda-yadda- yadda... he’s got his opinion and yadda-yadda-yadda I respect that...”

And then gone home and started throwing darts at photos of Lennox Lewis. Anyway, what do I know? Maybe there’s something deeper going on and that we are not privy or party to.

Maybe that blow you got on your head from Andy Ruiz is still hurting and it’s a sensitive time to be saying anything but praising you. Some people relive that. If you are, AJ, just say the word, because I don’t want to come to blows with you either. Truss.

Show your class, AJ. Show your class, my brother. You need to squash the beef. And you need to make a full public apology to Lennox.

Subscribe to The Voice database!

We'd like to keep in touch with you regarding our daily newsletter, Voice competitions, promotions and marketing material and to further increase our reach with The Voice readers.

If interested, please click the below button to complete the subscription form.

We will never sell your data and will keep it safe and secure.

For further details visit our privacy policy.

You have the right to withdraw at any time, by clicking 'Unsubscribe'.