Helen Joseph: Fighting For Recognition
By: Hans Themistode
It isn’t often that you will find a young child who says that they want to be a boxer when they get older. A firefighter, basketball player, football player, doctor or maybe even an astronaut. These are the norms.
There are those such as Floyd Mayweather who grew up in a family full of boxers. Becoming one himself was predestined. Others may not have the boxing blood running through their family, but are such fans of the sport that becoming a boxer is what they long for.
In short, unless you have grown up watching the sport of boxing or have it as a part of your bloodlines already, then it is most likely that boxing is not in your future.
Why should it be? It is a brutal sport. Kill or be killed. Fight to survive.
That is the exact motto that Nigeria’s Helen Joseph lives by.
Growing up in Nigeria, Joseph (15-3-2, 10 KOs) had nothing. We all have heard of these stories. Young children growing up to have very little. The difference with those stories and the one of Jospeh is that she had nothing and no one at all to help her grow into the woman that she is today. Nor did she have much knowledge about the sport boxing prior to getting herself involved.
“I did not have anything growing up. I had no mother, no father, nothing, I lost my mother very young,” said Joseph. “I was never supposed to be a boxer. I come from a poor background. Where I come from no one knows anything about sports. We did not even have a television. I come from a country where you have to struggle for everything that you want. It was not easy for me to get to this point.”
Struggle is exactly what she did growing up as child and continues to do today. Joseph has battled long. Stretches of inactivity for most of her career. Her August 3rd, 2019 showdown against Edina Kiss is her first bout in over a year. In 2018 she also made one ring appearance.
The same trend continued in 2016 and 2015. Although it is frustrating for Jospeh to continue to sit back and hope to land more fights, she does understand why she has had such issues.
“Whenever we get a fight, the girls end up finding out exactly who I am and call my manager to tell him that we are not ready for Helen Jospeh. Most of the girls are avoiding me.”
With 15 wins along 3 defeats and 10 of those victories coming via stoppage, plastered across her record, Joseph has an impressive resume. She is soft spoken and kind but does have a mean streak to her. That side of her can be triggered when mentioning the losses on her record. According to Joseph, those losses were unjustly given to her.
“With the losses on my record I was cheated. I went to their hometown and I won the fight but they don’t want to give me the victory. They know that they cannot beat me.”
Women’s boxing often times lacks depth. Meaning, a title shot could be forth coming at any given moment for just about any of these women. Joseph is hoping that a win this Saturday night will lead exactly to the title shot she has been longing for.
“I have been calling out the champions for a very long time. I am no longer calling them out anymore. If they want to fight with Helen Joseph then all they have to do is call me. I am the best in the division.”
It isn’t just her skills that lends her to believe that she is the best in her division. The trials and tribulations that she has gone through has molded her to becoming an elite fighter. There is nothing that can happen to her inside of the ring that can compare to what she has dealt with outside of it.
“If I had the opportunity that others has had then I would be the best but I don’t get the same chances. I struggled with no mother and no father. Anything I seen on the street is what I ate to survive. I see myself as the best because I train when I have no food in my stomach. I fight when I have no medical attention. I fight no matter what.”
For Joseph, fighting in the ring pales in comparison to fighting outside of it. The struggles that she has gone through has allowed her to perceiver through her own challenges.
Although Joseph has her eyes on putting on a dominant performance against Kiss, she did take the time out to recognize two former fighters in Hugo Santillan and Maxim Dadashev who both passed away recently because of their respective fights in the ring.
“I believe those fighters that passed away are heroes and should be celebrated. I have so much respect for them. They will always be heroes.”
As for what fans can expect for Joseph come fight night, that is simple.
“If I get the chance to knock her out I will take it. I just know that Edina Kiss and these other women will never defeat Helen Joseph.”
Helen Joseph: “My Goal Is To Be A World Champion”
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.