Joe Joyce, European and Commonwealth Games Superheavyweight Champion, focuses on the World Series of Boxing in London and winning Olympic Gold in Rio.
Joe Joyce’s journey to the top of the amateur boxing ranks could be described as anything but straightforward. The London-born superheavyweight was talented in a wide variety of sports and activities growing up including rugby, athletics, swimming, gymnastics, American Football and even cheerleading.
However, he admits, something was missing until he realised his passion for combat sports and boxing in particular.
“I liked the idea of channelling aggression into sports like rugby, which I played from an early age, but eventually I got tired of chasing a ball around.
“I had always been interested in martial arts such as karate, kickboxing, kung-fu, and capoeira but it wasn’t until I started boxing that I felt I could release that aggression through hard training and bag work.
“Certain martial arts involve really light training but I wanted to strip it down and get back to a bread-and-butter fighting style. I went down to my local gym, started hitting the bag, skipping and running and really got into it straight away.”
At 22, Joyce was a relative latecomer to boxing but believes his varied sporting background has aided his development rather than held him back.
“I actually think I’m more rounded because of the wide variety of sports I took part in,” said Joyce. “I think that a lot of boxers who start really young and have to make weight at such a young age are negatively affected – it may even stunt their growth a bit.
Joyce has wasted little time in making a name for himself by claiming both the European and Commonwealth Games superheavyweight titles. However, a true measurement of the 6ft 5inch fighter’s character is his disappointment at a bronze medal at last year’s AIBA World Boxing World Championships in Doha. It seems that he has his sights set firmly on redemption at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
“At the World Championships in 2015 I really thought I would get a gold medal. I was very disappointed but it just wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully in Rio I can put that right.”
“A gold medal at the Olympic Games would be the pinnacle. I’m confident that I’ll get a medal but I’m just hoping it’s the gold! If everything goes right, all lines up and I’m firing on all cylinders then I’m confident I can do it.”
Regardless of Joe’s pedigree, qualification for the Olympics in Rio this summer is not a given. In order to be eligible for selection he must qualify via a range of tournaments – one being the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
The WSB forms part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio campaign, and pits national boxing teams from across the globe against each other in five - three minute rounds and Joe can’t wait for season VI of the competition to begin.
“I’m almost ready to go now. I have a warm up tournament in between now and then which should stand me in good stead before the first WSB match in February. The WSB really suits me with its five rounds of three minutes and I’m confident I can get that superheavyweight qualification place.
“It’s good to be part of a team and to walk out to entrance music but one of the main benefits of the WSB is that you’re only training for one fight. In a tournament you can go through five or six rounds with very little preparation or knowledge of who you may be fighting. In the WSB you definitely have an idea of who it might be which is a massive help."
Joe Joyce is one of 1,300 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery supported World Class Programme.