sport news How Anthony Joshua's story has turned him into a social media star

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If you're unfamiliar with the story of Anthony Joshua, it begins with an unruly boy from Watford, born to Nigerian parents, who swapped selling drugs for boxing gloves before becoming an Olympic and world heavyweight champion less than 10 years after taking up the sport. Even more impressive, he achieved it all two years before his 30th birthday.

An athlete with a story is a marketer's dream, which is why heavyweight brands have been queuing up to tell the rags-to-riches tale of Joshua ever since he won gold at the 2012 London Olympics. It's also why he's become a social media phenomenon with an audience of 16 million followers across Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

To put his numbers into context; he has more followers on Instagram than the combined audience of heavyweight rivals Deontay Wilder (2.4m), Tyson Fury (2.3m) and Andy Ruiz Jnr (1.4m). His reach even surpasses striker Marcus Rashford (7.6m), England captain Harry Kane (9.1m) and tennis star Andy Murray (1.7m).

Anthony Joshua's Hollywood story and clean cut image has made him a social media star

Anthony Joshua's story and clean cut image has made him a social media star 

'AJ' has 13 brand partners including Land Rover, Lucozade, Beats by Dre and Sky Sports

'AJ' has 13 brand partners including Land Rover, Lucozade, Beats by Dre and Sky Sports

Joshua uses social media experts to build his following but maintains control of his accounts 

Joshua has turned to social media experts to help grow his profile. The 30-year-old employs PR agency SoapBox London to advise on his output across his various channels, but unlike many high-profile athletes he has maintained control of each and every social media post. That authenticity and his combination of talent, personability and a million-watt smile have been credited for his social media success.


Date: December 7

Location: Diriyah, Saudi Arabia

Venue: The Diriyah Arena 

Time: 9pm (GMT) 4pm (Eastern US)

TV: Sky Sports (UK) DAZN (USA) 

PPV price: £24.95  

'Joshua is relatable and authentic, you feel like you could have a pint with him down your local pub,' digital sports marketing expert, Alan Seymour, told Sportsmail. 'To be relatable you need to have a narrative that normal people can relate to - that creates an audience and a social media following. Joshua has that story and he's an athlete as well as a personality - that attracts followers and that's the type of athlete brands look for.'

Joshua's journey was chronicled in a Lucozade advert in 2018. The 60-second video has since racked up more than nine million views on YouTube and millions more across the web. Rupert Pratt, director of Mongoose Sports & Entertainment, says Joshua is the 'perfect ambassador'. 'There's always a risk sponsoring a personality that something could go wrong, but you look at his history and you see he's a very safe endorsement with values that companies are going to be desperate to align themselves with,' he told The Drum.

Lucozade aren't the only brand to have tapped into the Joshua story. He has partnerships with 13 different brands, including Under Armour, Beats by Dre, Lynx, Land Rover, Jaguar, William Hill and Sky Sports, which, according to Forbes, has brought in £5million of his £35m earnings in 2019. In 2015, he formed his own company, AJ Boxing, which sees him thrash out deals with global partners alongside Managing Director Freddie Cunningham. Joshua's involvement in negotiations and business nous has been another key to building his commercial empire.

'A lot of athletes would not know the value of deals,' Cunningham told Business Insider. 'Joshua is impressive

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