• Bunce on Olympics

Joshua writing a fistic fairytale

Steve Bunce August 11, 2012
Anthony Joshua is one victory away from Olympic gold © PA Photos

Let me tell you a story about a kid called Anthony Joshua.

Medal Table

It's a modern, urban fairytale and what better place to tell it? The Olympics have been carved into a dirty, forgotten, neglected and ancient part of London.

Joshua fights for the Olympic gold medal in the super-heavyweight division on Sunday, and if he pulls off the miracle and adds a bit of Walt Disney to this excessive and bewildering show, it will be the perfect happy ending. He will also become an instant millionaire.

Joshua has been on the London boxing scene for a couple of years. He won the Novice Championship in 2009 and in 2010 the ABA Championship of England. He fights for Finchley Club, where he came under the tutelage of Johnny 'The Lord' Oliver. It was Oliver who discovered Dereck Chisora.

"Big Josh had all the skills and the heart and the desire and the willingness to learn," Oliver said. "He is always learning - he is like a sponge."

Joshua was the domestic champion but he was not selected for the European Championship in Moscow in 2010 and he was overlooked again for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. He was told that he lacked the experience for those tournaments; it looked like his Olympic dream would never happen.

Then the big lad was in trouble with the police and a little over a year ago he was off the squad. His Olympics had ended before they had even started. But, this is a fairytale and I'm determined to deliver a happy ending.

Joshua was cleared, the case dropped, his name cleaned and he was back in the British team. He went to the European Championship in Ankara, Turkey, winning a couple, losing but getting experience. Then late last year he went to the World Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was just a trip to get some experience, the Olympics remained off in the haze.

He won five times and was in the final, which was fight number 560, against the Hero of Baku, the Lord of Azerbaijan Fisticuffs, the great Magomed Medzhidov. At that point no Azeri boxer had won gold and it was the last fight. To stack the odds even more against Joshua the Azeri President showed up just before the final. It gets worse: the venue, which was packed with 16,000 Azeri troops, is named after the President!

Big Josh lost by a point, admitted he lost, flew home and started to prepare for tomorrow's final against Italy's Roberto Cammarelle, the reigning Olympic champion. It's been a mad journey but will it have its Cinderella moment? Joshua beat Cammarelle last year in Baku. Could he do it again? Can he really win gold? Do you believe in tooth fairies, gnomes, Santa Claus? Well, I do.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.