The now heavyweight world champion spent time in prison on remand in 2009 for “fighting and other crazy stuff” and was also slapped with a 12-month community order two years later after being charged with possession of cannabis.
He turned his life around after discovering a love for boxing and now reigns as the holder of three of the four belts in the sport’s premier division.
But, writing for the Player’s Tribune, Joshua recalled how his time living in Nigeria as a youngster made him street-smart to the point he ended up in trouble.
“I learned so many things in Nigeria,” he said. “It was warm, so I spent time outside, talking to people, figuring out how they work, how I could get stuff from them, how I could help them.
“I tried to pick up the language, the dialect, the expressions. I learned how to protect myself. Pretty soon I learned the hustle and bustle of Nigeria.”
Joshua returned to London at the age of 12 and spent another three years in education before learning the rules of the street.
“I was ready to handle anything,” he added. “But then I took a wrong turn. I had some friends who were two years older than me. They were hustling and bustling, making money, and I was like, Hey, I’m in school, and these guys are at a basketball court just living life? I need to get in on this.
“So I learned about business, reinvesting, saving.
“Unfortunately, it turned into a rat race to make money. You sold whatever you could: bikes, cars, chains. I didn’t see whatever else came with it, just the paper notes at the end of it.
“That was around the time 50 Cent released Get Rich or Die Trying and that was the mentality, you know what I mean? We’re going to die anyway, and we’re broke anyway, so we might as well try to get rich.
“But then it flipped for me. One night I was sleeping in a hostel when my phone rang at five in the morning. It was my mum. She was asking why there were 10 police officers at her door.
“The boys in blue were looking for me. That’s when I realised, I’ve got to change the way I am.
“So I got a second chance. And that’s how I found boxing.”