The boxer called it a blessing to grow up in the Meriden Estate, where he was surrounded by people of different cultures, as it helped shape him to be the man he is today.
In an interview with Vogue, Joshua explained that the goal now is to build youth projects and community centres in the area now – a call back to his declaration to invest in Watford back during the Black Lives Matter protest in Cassiobury Park a year ago.
Talking about the importance of community centres, he said: “So there’s one in my estate, but no kids go there.
“I want to build a community hub where kids can come after school, because that period between three o’clock till when parents get home from work, kids don’t know what to do with their time.”
The topic of investing into the community was mentioned in an exclusive chat with the Watford Observer during the Black Lives Matter protest – as he shared the support with over a thousand people who attend amid the first lockdown.
When asked about the importance of the movement, he said: “Growing up, my mum and dad didn’t tell me, ‘you know son, there’s a thing called racism, which is about the colour of your skin, and as a young black African boy, you’re going to face some situations.”
Anthony Joshua in the town centre during the Black Lives Matter protest
He added that he learnt more about racism during the movement than ever before, and it is something he wishes to pass on to his son.
However he explained that to his face, he never faced overt racism as a youth as there were “a lot of educated people in our community”.
Looking back to his youth, he said he did not want to leave Watford – but after getting banned from Watford and facing a possible 15 years in jail, he began to use that as a gateway to better himself.
Watford Observer: AJ grew up in the Meriden estate in Watford
AJ grew up in the Meriden estate in Watford
He said: “That’s when I started training. I wanted to get stronger. I said, ‘when I go back to Watford, I don’t want to be the same skinny kid.”
“Where we grew up in Watford, it wasn’t about being rough – obviously you had to back yourself – but we were hustlers. So I took the hustler’s mindset from Watford and I just put it into boxing and navigated my way through with good manners,” he said.