Is Anthony Joshua Nigerian? Boxer’s heritage, full name and why he’s also called Femi explained

In 2020, Anthony Joshua traveled to Nigeria for the first time as a two-time world heavyweight champion and was touched by the adoring welcome he received on the streets.

Flanked by fans and bodyguards on a first visit to his father Robert’s home, Joshua pledged to help people at a place where thousands flock to watch his fights.

Many of those fans will be watching as Joshua attempts to regain his titles from undefeated opponent Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Is the former Olympic champion Nigerian? Why did his full name draw attention? Here is part of the story of Joshua’s legacy.

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Is Anthony Joshua Nigerian?

Joshua is British but the boy who would become a 6ft 6in sporting superstar was born in 1989 in Watford, near London, to a family with strong Nigerian connections and roots.

The Joshuas are well known in Sagamu, a conglomerate of 13 towns in southwestern Nigeria, and their ancestry spans several generations, according to BBC Sport.

Daniel Adebambo Joshua, his great-grandfather, was a wealthy landowner and merchant who reportedly took his surname after converting to Christianity, the outlet said.

“My mother was born in the UK, traveled back to Nigeria and spent a lot of time there growing up,” Joshua explained in a mini-documentary showing his trip to Nigeria. “My father was born and raised there and traveled to the UK.

“In my house it was Nigeria. Outside of my home I was in the UK. I lived with Nigerian parents but I grew up in the UK – a Londoner at heart, Watford boy.”

What is Anthony Joshua’s full name?

Joshua spoke about his full name while attending a question-and-answer session at the Oxford Union in May 2022.

“It’s Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua,” he said, adding that his nickname was “unusual” where he grew up.

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Why do some people refer to Anthony Joshua as Femi?

This nickname comes from Joshua’s middle name, and it’s one Joshua is comfortable with, judging from his Oxford lecture.

Two of Joshua’s boxing rivals, Dillian Whyte and Tyson Fury, have used the name to target barbs at the 32-year-old.

Whyte, who was KO’d by Joshua in 2015, called his former opponent “Fake” for not using the Femi name.

In one of his trusted Instagram rants, Fury called Joshua “the plastic Nigerian” and said he would “fly the flag” for the country if their long-discussed fight ever materializes.

“Big Femi, your rowdy street name,” added the routinely provocative Brit. “I’ve seen your type many times. I’m more Nigerian than you.”

It is fair to say that Nigerians would have disagreed. Joshua presented his belts to the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari when they met in London in 2020, and the fighter has an Africa tattoo – with Nigeria highlighted – on his right arm.

Joshua has stepped into the ring to Nigerian music, waved the Nigerian flag during fights, supported social causes in the country and spoken of his love for Nigerian food.

“This is energy, this is love, this is purity,” he said during his visit. “One love, one spirit. What I do first and foremost is fight for my family. And now I want to help Nigerians too.”

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Nigerian-born UFC fighter Israel Adesanya has urged Joshua to “tap into his ancestors and bring out the lion in himself” if he faces Usyk again.

“He’s a special specimen. I like it when he says, ‘I’m done boxing, I’m done trying to box,'” Adesanya told Sky Sports, urging Joshua to be more aggressive.

“He got angry and I said ‘yes’. Bring out that lineage and take advantage of that. I think if he does that, he’s going to be a dangerous man.

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