Reviewer: Matt Forrest
It would be fair to say that there is very little left for Anthony Joshua to achieve: at the tender of age of 27, he is an Olympic champion, has won gold at the 2012 games in London and is a previous British, Commonwealth and WBC International heavyweight champion. At present, he is the reigning and defending IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight champion of the world, as well as being an MBE. Joshua is 13 days removed from an epic, bruising battle with Wladimir Klitschko in front of a 90,000 strong crowd at Wembley Stadium: which had the boxing world heralding it as a modern classic and one of the greatest fights of all time.
Joshua’s rise to the top is meteoric, winning respect and fans around the world. So with that in mind, it would seem the perfect opportunity for An Evening with Anthony Joshua, to gain an insight into the inner workings of our latest sporting superstar.
Like most major boxing events, the evening didn’t run on time. Due to travel issues, the fan meet and greet over-ran. So when the Lyric theatre doors finally opened an hour after the show was due to begin, there were more than a few disgruntled punters in the auditorium. Things began to get worse, as compare Charlie Hale welcomed the audience to the event. The mood was flat due to the delay, audience members were drifting out of the auditorium and the stage was being set up behind for an auction: it looked amateurish. This wasn’t helped by the compare himself, Hale did have a job getting the audience on side but he didn’t help himself with poor and dated material. Rather than telling jokes, he spoke to the audience as if he were a children’s entertainer and seemed to take umbrage when challenged by hecklers.
I would like to say the evening improved… it didn’t. An auction followed for various sporting memorabilia; this added to the frustrations of the crowd and was a reminder that this wasn’t about Anthony Joshua, but more about making someone a shedload of cash. The only highlight was someone rather cruelly offered to pay Hale £500 if he “f**ked off”.
At this point in the evening, the event was firmly landing a knockout zero star review… Then that changed. The main event: Joshua arrived on stage to a thunderous ovation for his sit down interview with Hale. Joshua was chatty and candid about his upbringing, his amateur career and his time at the Olympics. There was a great deal of discussion around the Kiltschko fight, as well as Joshua’s rivalry with Dillian Whyte and a potential fight with Tyson Fury.
Joshua came across as humble yet confident, always honest. He never said anything derogatory or inflammatory about previous opponents and was always respectful, which I have to say was refreshing. I also have to give props to Hale for his interview; he clearly is a boxing historian and fan of the sport. To watch the pair of them exchange stories about a sport they both clearly love was informative and engaging. What Hale lacked earlier in the evening he made up for during the interview and I certainly could have watched the two chat for a longer period. Hale certainly warmed Joshua up and as the interview progressed it became more relaxed, which certainly helped for an interesting audience Q & A session; there were some insightful and intelligent questions, as well as a few ‘cheeky’ comedy questions, which Joshua answered honestly and never ducked.
After an initially frustrating and disappointing start, the evening turned into a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining insight into just how far hard work, determination and God given talent can take you. If they could arrive to the venue on time, lose the auction and have a bit more boxing chit-chat, then just like Joshua this would be a winner!
Reviewed on May 12, 2017 : Image: Contributed