Get to know AJ’s main sparring partner Martin Bakole ahead of Anthony Joshua vs Alexander Povetkin
Born: Kananga, Congo.
Based: Greengairs, Aidrie, Scotland.
Height: 6ft 6ins.
First fight: Aged 17.
Amateur record: 16-0-1.
Professional record: 11-0 (8).
Trainer/manager: Billy Nelson.
Promoter: Cyclone Promotions.
Background: The vegetarian son of a tribal king, Bakole abandoned his affluent upbringing to pursue his boxing career, first in South Africa, then Preston and Aidrie. One of 10 children, his brother is pro cruiserweight Junior Makabu who lost a vacant WBC title challenge against Tony Bellew at Goodison Park in 2015.
Next fight: Tops the Cyclone bill on October 13 at London’s York Hall against former US Olympian and world title challenger Michael Hunter.
How he started working with Anthony Joshua: Eddie Hearn approached my manager Billy Nelson for sparring last year, ahead of his fight with Carlos Takam. He was initially supposed to face Kubrat Pulev, who I am more similar to. The sparring was excellent, I’d say I was easily the person that gave AJ the best rounds. For me to be a World Champion I need to compete with the best and that’s what my coach has me doing – I have also sparred with undefeated prospect Daniel Dubois recently.
How Joshua is looking ahead of the Alexander Povetkin fight: “AJ is looking slim and fast. I believe I give AJ his best rounds, especially the volume of rounds. I am taller than Povetkin but I’m stronger and every bit as quick; AJ has smaller sparring partners in camp too.”
Likes: Folk who respect you for who you are and what you do, especially in Greengairs where I am the only black person and they love and support me.
Dislikes: Athletes that take drugs to improve their performance, there is no place for this in any sport.
Boxing influences: Junior Makabu; Muhammad Al