Ali lookalike aims to make his mark on canvas

Baku, June 14, AZERTAC 

Great Britain may have a boxer called Muhammad Ali in their team, but there is another member of the squad who actually looks like 'The Greatest' - super heavyweight Joe Joyce.

At 6ft 6in and 110kg, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist is actually bigger than Ali. He often hears of himself being compared to the American legend.

Joyce said: "He was an icon of mine growing up, although some people say I look more like Joe Louis. I think I have a good work rate like Ali - I throw a lot of punches - but I don't have his gift of the gab.

"I certainly don't have his gift for poetry. I guess I make up for it in other ways. I might paint some pictures."

Joyce has a bachelor's degree in fine arts, not a subject one would necessarily associate with a boxer.

"I was going to do sports science but then I'd done physical education for my GCSE and I didn't really like it. It takes the fun out of sport," said Joyce.

"I was good at art so one of my teachers said 'why don't you do an art foundation', and that led on to me getting a BA. I loved it."

He started out in martial arts and came into boxing late at 23 years of age. He also played rugby for his county, Surrey, and club side Rosslyn Park and was a decent long jumper and triple jumper.

"But I wasn't performing at a high enough level to get anywhere so I joined a boxing gym during the summer, when uni closed, to hit a bag and do some sparring - release some aggression," he said. "I'd enjoyed that when I did martial arts and it eventually led on to me taking up boxing."

Joyce is looking to emulate his close friend, London 2012 Olympic Games super heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua, by winning in the same weight division at the Baku 2015 European Games.

That would earn him a place at this year's world championships in Doha and open up the road for a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

"My goal is the gold medal in Rio - hopefully I'll qualify for that sooner or later," he said. "Whatever happens there though I'll be turning professional."

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