‘Get him before he gets me’
Those words stuck with me after the interview with Joshua Buatsi, a Ghanaian-born British professional boxer. A new decade just rolled around and it seems like the perfect words to live by. Well, both in the boxing ring and in life. With the title of British light heavyweight champion under his belt in a relatively short period, it’s only a matter of time for him to become a world champ!
We caught up with him to chat after the editorial during the holidays.
- Who is Joshua Buatsi in one phrase?
Hmm, I haven’t got one but I have got six and it literally spells my surname BUATSI:
- How was your childhood like?
I grew up in Ghana so my childhood was quite busy. I say busy because I grew up with my cousins. I have got a big family so it was very family-involved.
- Is there one fond childhood memory you can share with us?
The first one that comes to mind is when I fell off a bike in Ghana. I remember learning how to ride a bicycle and you know when you’re learning how to ride, they’ve got stabilizers that help you but we had it removed. We were all cycling in a group and then I fell down and my legs were bleeding. It’s not a good memory but it’s something I remember so clearly.
- What triggered your love for boxing? How did it begin for you?
Uhm, it came about by me trying to find an individual sport where the result reflected on the individual. In team sports you could be good or bad but if the team is good, you all win and if they are bad, you all lose. Whether you are good or not, you all still lose. I just wanted an individual sport where I was more in control. That’s what kind of triggered it. I liked fighting. I was curious. I was captivated by fighting and people that could fight.
How did I begin? I grew up in Croydon and one summer afternoon, a friend brought gloves and we put it on and started sparring each other. Sparring is like what you do in training, it’s not really fighting. We put the gloves on and started going at each other and that was my first encounter with boxing.
- Did you have any doubts about the sport as you trained to go pro?
There’s always doubts but training sort of narrows that so coming back from the Olympics, I knew that going professional was the next stage. I can’t say I had doubts in that area because that was a natural progression.
- Did you have someone you looked up to in the world of boxing when you started out?
There were just a few favourite fighters that I really liked to watch. The old-time heavy weights in Ali’s generation – Muhammad Ali, Ken Norton, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Larry Holmes; I enjoyed watching them a lot.
- You had your professional debut in 2017 against Carlos Mena at The O2 Arena which you won by knockout in the second round. How was the feeling like after the fight?
After the fight it was the best feeling because there was a lot of pressure on me so it was good for that pressure to be removed. I didn’t even enjoy my day to be fair but looking back, I wish I had enjoyed it a bit more. So, anyone reading this, if you’re going have your debut, I’d advise you to enjoy it as much as you can because it only happens once.
- Did you expect to have such an iconic outcome in your debut match?
I don’t know if I expected an iconic outcome but I expected to win.
- Since then you have won all your 11 subsequent matches which 9 of them were by knockout which is an incredible feat. What do you think of that achievement?
At this stage, to be honest, I am expected to win all these fights so I can’t get too bigheaded about it but I am very grateful to have won them; because sometimes the fights you are expected to win are the very ones you end up losing. To be able look back and say I have had 12 professional fights and won all of them, I am really grateful for that.
- What do you tell yourself before a fight? Do you give yourself a pep talk or does your manager do it?
My manager? No one can save me before a fight apart from God. When the referee gives the instructions, everyone steps out of the ring and you are left with your opponent so the last thing I say to myself before the bell goes is, ‘Get him before he gets you’.
- What legacy do you want to leave behind with your career?
Simply that I did give it my best while I was active and with the good things that came with boxing, I spread my wings and I did good things with it.
- Do you have any hobbies?
I don’t know if that counts as a hobby but I do like going out to eat a lot. I’m always out trying to eat something. I like travelling a lot of different countries and doing activities when I travel. I don’t like water activities so much because I’m not much of a swimmer but I would give it a go if I am feeling brave enough.
- What golden rule do you live by?
That’s a very good question. Just keep trying. That’s it, keep trying. A quote my sister says to me, ‘Just because someone sins differently to you doesn’t mean they are worse than you are.’ I always think just because someone is doing something different to you or I am doing something different to someone doesn’t mean we’re different.
Another quote I used to live by a lot which I guess is stuck in my unconscious is that, ‘Every day is a new day.’ There’s a new chance for you to aim high, set goals, chase after them and try to achieve them.
14. Best advice you have ever been given?
I’d say the best advice I’ve been given is ‘You only live once’ and ‘try and make the best out everything you’ve got.’
- What keeps you going in life?
Knowing that probably at the end of all of this, I will have to give account. In the sense that, ‘You boxed at a good level, you had all these things within your reach. How did you use it? What did you do?’ To be able to help people with my life and not be selfish with what I have keep me going.
- What fashion accessory can’t you live without?
I used to wear watches religiously but I have stopped wearing them for about two years now so in terms of fashion accessories, I wouldn’t say any. I wear a chain quite a bit but if I were to wake up tomorrow and I couldn’t wear one, I wouldn’t cry about it.
- Any guilty pleasures?
Chocolates! Send me some Ghana chocolates!
- Last words to your fans.
I am grateful for the support! I’ll work hard, do the best I can to help, inspire as much as I can and keep it moving!
PHOTOGRAPHY – DANNY WONDER
COSTUMES – ATTO TETTEH
CHIIP O NEAL
STYLING – BRIMAH