Excellent Things #12

You learn through what you go through.

Anthony Joshua is one of the most extraordinary athletes alive today. And until his recent loss to Andy Ruiz, he was on a directly ascending path to becoming one of the greatest ever boxers.

The loss to Ruiz, a shorter, fatter, 25-1 outsider, was a complete shock. The fall for Joshua could barely have been greater.

But his mental response was perfect. If you watch the video above, from 14:45, you can see him, just minutes after the fight, consoling his parents, and already reframing the loss:

You go back to the drawing board. You talk, you watch, you study. And then you become better. You become stronger. 

And if you don’t become stronger, you become weaker, and then you stop. But it’s your choice.

Do you stop, or do you keep going?

Joshua’s response reminded me of this recent BBC article:

Top athletes have a way of turning pain into rocket fuel. The defeat becomes a reason to push themselves even further the next time.

Michael Jordan famously didn’t make the cut for his varsity team, Cameron Smith didn’t make the QLD U/17s side, and Tom Brady was still in tears about being drafted in the sixth round, even after winning three Super Bowls.

Adversity, and pain, seem to be necessary ingredients to the greatest success.

I’ve always said, don’t let the failures get to your heart, and don’t let success get to your head.

In that sense, I’ve always felt like the belt’s never represented me. I’m a man who stands alone. 

I make boxing. Boxing doesn’t make me. 

I was a man before I held those belts. I was a respectful person before I held those belts. 

And, I’ll be the same person when I retire, and those belts aren’t around my waist. 

- Anthony Joshua

Quick Links:

The other boxer I follow with fascination is Vasyl Lomachenko, who is technically maybe the best boxer of all-time. See exactly why here and here.

I first fell in love with Joshua’s story in this Netflix documentary about him.

Spoiler Alert: The fight that cemented Joshua’s reputation was this one against Wladimir Klitschko.

Related: The Klitschko documentary is also amazing. Wladimir’s big brother Vitali is now the Mayor of Kiev, which is a more amazing story in itself.

Also Related: You should watch Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom on Netflix.