British Nigerian heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua has announced plans to establish a care facility for retired boxers battling health problems.

In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Joshua shared his vision to create a supportive community for former fighters, often struggling in silence, and has already discussed the initiative with his former coach, John Oliver.

Joshua candidly recognized the risks associated with boxing, stressing that the well-being of fighters should take precedence over the pursuit of victory, and highlighting the need for a shift in priorities within the sport.

“They suffer by themselves, so we’ve been speaking about opening up a care home. That would be part of my boxing legacy – that I gave something back to the sport that made me,” he said.

Joshua shared his personal story, gratefully acknowledging how boxing transformed his life as a teenager. He humbly expressed his ultimate wish is to emerge from his boxing career with his health still intact, because “it’s your health that is the most important thing you’re ­putting on the line”.

“We can notice it in fighters when their health is deteriorating, but we never actually talk about it among ourselves. All we focus on is winning,” Joshua said.

“None of us fighters talk about our health,” he says. “We can notice in fighters when their health is deteriorating, but we never talk about it… All we focus on is winning.” He said he’d like to open “a care home for retired boxers if they have bad health… That will be part of my legacy, that I gave something back to the sport that made me.”

Joshua recounted how boxing saved him from a tumultuous teenage life.

Born in Watford, he spent part of his childhood in a Nigerian boarding school. After returning to the UK, he struggled with legal troubles, was banned from Watford town centre for fighting, and got involved in illegal activities to make money.

At 17, his mother moved to London, and he became embroiled in drug dealing, leading to a period of homelessness and living in a hostel. Boxing intervened, transforming his life and setting him on a path to success.

A pivotal encounter with his cousin Ben led Joshua to Finchley Amateur Boxing Club, a turning point in his life. Just three years later, Joshua’s newfound passion propelled him to the Olympic stage, marking the beginning of his remarkable boxing career.

Expressing his love for music, Joshua said he even trained as a sound engineer.

“When I was in trouble [as a teenager], I wanted to show that I was not a waste of time to society,” he said. “So… I enrolled in college… and started doing sound engineering.”

He said: “I love music because I feel like it can always set the tone for me and what I’m trying to achieve. I like reggae, classical, hip hop. At the moment, I’m in my classical phase because I need to settle my mind and focus.”

He chose Adele’s ‘Hometown Glory’ and ‘Agape’ by Nicholas Britell as his most special songs.

“They’re the soundtrack to my life right now,” he said.

Joshua is focusing on the business aspect of boxing to secure his post-boxing life. When asked by Laverne about his controversial decision to participate in high-profile fights in Saudi Arabia, a country criticized for its human rights record, Joshua responded, “I’m there for boxing. I don’t get involved in the politics.”

Joshua’s eight-year-old son, JJ, is growing up, and Joshua candidly admits he hopes his child won’t pursue a career in boxing like he did. Despite his own success in the sport, Joshua wants a different path for his son, seeking a safer and less physically demanding future for him.

“If I was to choose, I’d ask him to look at accountancy,” he said.