This month for ‘Club Matters Meets’, we caught up with Joe Joyce, Olympic boxing silver medallist. The Super Heavyweight signed with David Haye’s Hayemaker Ringstar promotions company in 2017, and marked his professional debut in October with a win. Ahead of his fight against Rudolf Jozic on 16th February at York Hall, London, we spoke to Joe about his introduction to the sport, the clubs and volunteers that had an impact on him growing up, and his plans for the future.
Club Matters: How old where you when you joined your first boxing club and what was it called?
Joe Joyce: I was 22 and the boxing club was Earlsfield ABC, in south London.
CM: What do you remember about the club?
JJ: It was very busy, there was a mixture of children and adults. Very noisy, sweaty. It was quite strict; the lead trainer was always barking out orders and instructions, like “Hit the bag.”
CM: How important was this grassroots introduction to sport in your development to a professional athlete?
JJ: It was very important because it got me interested in the sport. I just went there to keep fit, get some aggression out on the bags and do a bit of sparring. I ended up falling in love with it and competing in my first boxing event. I won and it gave me a really good feeling. I then kept on winning and eventually went on to the novice ABA Championships and then the main ABAs. This then gave me the chance to get on the GB Boxing team, which led to me winning more tournaments, qualifying for the Olympic team and winning a silver medal at Rio 2016.
CM: What is your fondest memory of sport when you were younger?
JJ: My fondest memory from my boxing club was when three of us from Earlsfield Boxing Club all won the ABA’s in 2012. It was a really proud moment for the club. I also liked playing rugby when I was younger, I played from when I was about 6 to 18. I really liked the team environment and going to different tournaments together. We were unbeaten for two years, which was great. I also did a lot of swimming galas at Wandsworth Swimming Club and at my school. My teachers always wanted me to compete.
CM: Is there a particular club member from anywhere along your incredible journey that made a real impact in your life? Is there anything you would like to say to them?
JJ: Yes, Hernandez Pinada. He was the first person to tell me that I had real sporting potential and he started to train me free of charge for athletics and helped me compete. When I got involved in boxing, he took me to Cuba to train with his family. After that, I won the ABA’s and got onto the GB team. He was a vital component to getting me to where I am and giving me the mentality that I can do something in sport. I would like to thank him for mentoring me.
CM: When your amazing career comes to an end, do you plan on volunteering your time and giving back to the sport that made you the man you are today?
JJ: Yes, I have already taught swimming and diving and I found it very rewarding. I am a good teacher so I would be good at teaching boxing, when I retire. I could also teach art because I have a Fine Arts degree.
CM: Is there any message you’d like to give to the volunteers who help run thousands of sports clubs up and down the country?
JJ: Keep doing what you are doing. Without you, a vital component is missing that helps discover and nurture new talent. For the amateur boxing clubs, the grassroots clubs, without the volunteers there’s no way for GB to scout new talent.
Catch Joe in action on UKTV from 9pm on February 16th.