By: Sean Crose
“Yeah, I prefer being a professional,” Helen Joseph says over the phone. The 15-3-1 women’s bantamweight won the World Boxing Federation Intercontinental Female Bantamweight Title with a win over Elizabeth Anderson last November and is set to face the 13-1 Tyreshia Douglas later this month. There’s more to the New Haven, by way of Nigeria, fighter than just a background in boxing, however. “Karate and kickboxing, too,” she says of her skill set. Right now, though, it’s boxing that’s the woman’s focus. And it’s a focus that thoroughly intense. “I have worked so hard to come to this level today,” she says. “My goal is to be a world champion to be the world’s best.”
Just how determined is the 29 year old known as the “Iron Lady?” She came all the way from Africa to the United States to achieve hr dream. What’s more, Joseph travels from New Haven to New York, not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, to train. “I train in New York City at my dad’s gym,” she claims. And her home is miles away on the Connecticut shoreline? “Yeah,” she says. “This is where I stay.” Joseph undoubtedly hopes to join other Connecticut notables, such as Marlon Starling, Chad Dawson, John Scully, and the great Willie Pep.
“After this fight,” she says of the impending Douglas bout, “they’re going to give me a chance to have a world title.” Some may say that’s wishful thinking, but Joseph makes it clear that she aims to make a statement when she steps into the ring to face Douglas on the 29th of this month. “I know the way this is going to end,” she says of the bout. “It’s going to shake the world.” Still, Joseph can’t help but feel somewhat avoided. “They don’t want to fight me,” she says of the top names in her weight realm.
So, what does Joseph feel about Douglas, the opponent she’s determined to make mark against? “I know she’s pretty good and she has a lot of fans,” says Joseph. Joseph exudes confidence in the days leading up to the match. “I believe in my God and I believe in myself,” she says. Provided all goes well, Joseph may have more fans who believe in her, as well. It’s hard not to pull for someone who travels so far, who works so hard, to attain a single goal. It may not by easy “to be the world’s best,” but it’s worth keeping in mind that some hungry fighter is always there to fill the top spot.
And that there are few hungrier than Joseph.