Get To Know – Joe Cordina

Joe, will be our resident boxing column writer, talking all things fighting each month with an emphasis on Wales. To kick off our first issue, and therefore his first column…. We meet Joe and get the down-low on him from his early career to today and get a glimpse into what will come for his column moving forward.

Joe Cordina celebrates defeating Kenichi Ogawa in the International Boxing Federation World Super Feather Title at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2022.

Joe’s Titles:


So how did you start out?

I was born and grew up in St Mellons in Cardiff.

I started off playing football and rugby and anything else really. Everything I seemed to pick up as a kid I was good at. Whether it was riding motor bikes or a push-bike.

My father quickly got me into sports. I started off with football then rugby and picked it up like a duck to water.

In football I played for Cardiff City Academy but then fell out of love with it and started really concentrating on the rugby. Then from 11 I played for Cardiff Schools, District, East Wales, The Blues, up until I was 16.

Then, during the off-season, led by my dad, I decided to try my hand in the boxing gym. I was always fighting on the rugby pitch so needed to channel this elsewhere.

I was a lot smaller than everyone else and felt like someone would always be aiming for me. I was hot headed and always fighting as a kid. It got to a point where it was getting too much. I was getting sent off week after week, so as well as keeping fit during off-season, my old man wanted to put me into boxing to blow off some steam and get a bit of discipline instilled in me, which I never lacked, but it seemed to go out of the window on the rugby field.

My dad was always strict with me and always tried to keep me on the right part, coming from St Mellons, quite a rough area, he kept me out of the way of trouble. I was a good kid – the boxing then allowed me to channel my enthusiasm.

I then came to a crossroads. I had to choose between my love for rugby and my ever-growing successes in the boxing ring. They were opposites so couldn’t do them in silo for much longer – boxing required me to drop weight, whilst rugby required me to gain. The balance was hard. Although I loved rugby more than anything, there’s no better feeling than getting your hand raised in that ring. For me – I decided to crack on with the boxing, one fight led to two and then to three and I never looked back.


So, you started boxing at 16, when did you win your first fight?

After three months of being in the gym. It was really quick. I didn’t really want to fight to be honest. My trainer rang my dad and told him I was ready. My Mum had said from the beginning though that it was just for training and there wouldn’t be any fighting. But my dad encouraged me to go for it. Anything my dad said for me to do, I’d do. That’s our relationship. I’ve got such respect for him and look up to him.

How did you feel going into that first fight?

It’s so nerve wracking and the opposite to having a scrap on the pitch – where a few punches are thrown, and someone breaks it up. When you’re fighting in the ring, its completely different. Someone’s punching back at you, and they have the same intent of trying to hurt you. Once I had the taste of the win though, that was it.

So going back to your first fight… where was it? How did you feel? Compared to your latest fight?

It was in Llanelli, on a rugby pitch in a marquee. There were 200 people there, and half of them were there for me. It was the most nerve-wracking moment of my life. I was sat in the changing rooms thinking ‘’Oh my God what have I got myself into?’”

I thought let me have a peak through the curtains. Which is when I caught a glimpse of my dad and I thought, there’s no turning back now. If he hadn’t been there – I would have grabbed my kit and hitch-hiked home. That and my first fight in the Olympics were my top two most scary experiences.

Then in comparison to my first fight, my last was held at The Motorpoint Arena here in Cardiff, fighting for the World title – the biggest fight of my life really, and it didn’t even come close to the nerves that I had at my first fight.”

Where have you fought?

I’ve fought all over, places like Kazakhstan, China, Brazil, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, and obviously in the UK many times. It’s been great to experience different cultures and fighting styles.

As an amateur, how are all these travel arrangements funded?

So, after my third fight I went straight into the Welsh team for two years. I then won the British Championships so immediately had a trial for Team GB which I got into, so I was back and forth to Sheffield every two weeks as part of the development squad and was lucky enough to be completely funded. I started off on £400 per month which worked for me then.  I was training full time so wasn’t spending a thing.

As time went on, I started participating in tournaments and then got everything paid for. My food, accommodation, travel etc. I did this for 7.5 years fully funded by The National Lottery – so I was very lucky. I didn’t stay on £400 for long though don’t worry!

Then you turned pro?

Yes, after my fifth fight, I boxed for a WBA International title, which gets you in the top 15 in the world. I boxed a guy called Hakim Ben Ali from Belgium, and I beat him. And then I had one more fight and then boxed for the Commonwealth title. In my eighth fight I boxed for a British title, in my ninth fight I boxed for a WBA InterContinental, to put you in the top ten.

I then had some time off due to COVID and then had an operation on my hand as I fractured my metacarpal. Post lockdown, I boxed for another intercontinental title and then straight into a world title. They were umming and aahing as to whether I was ready and I told them that I definitely was. So within 15 fights I won the world title, with a further six titles to my name.”

Cardiff, UK: Kenichi Ogawa vs Joe Cordina, IBF Super-Featherweight World Title. 4 June 2022 Picture By Matthew Pover Matchroom Boxing

So what happened next?
I was getting ready for my World Title defence, which would have been on November 5th 2022, and it was my first spar back, my first round, my first punch I threw, I let my right hand go, and snapped my metatarsal.

Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a freak accident, which you don’t really see happening like it did. And that resulted in me losing my World title. I basically won it and lost it in the same year.


I’ve just listened to what they told me. I don’t know the full story; I’m just going off what they are telling me.  I wasn’t involved in any of the negotiations – in a nutshell there was a loophole that was taken advantage of. They made a deal without me knowing and left me in the lurch as to something I wasn’t aware of. Goal posts were moved, it was unfair.

What’s the plan of getting your title back?

I’ll be fighting for it relatively soon, hopefully in April, we’re just waiting to hear the announcement.

How will that make you feel, winning it back?

It won’t be the same. Obviously, it’ll be a happy moment, but I’ll be fighting the same guy, so just doing everything again really. I should be fighting for two-time world champion – not first time. I might throw the trophy in the river.

What has been your highlight fight in your career?

My last fight, winning the world title in Cardiff. No one’s ever won it in Wales or in Britain. It was magical. I couldn’t have written it better how I won it.

What was your worst fight?

Miko Khatchatryan – he was always running away and avoiding engaging, it wasn’t the prettiest of fights.

Anyone you’d love to fight?

A dream of mine would be to fight Shakur Stevenson. He’s someone I really want to fight and test myself against. Not many people want to fight him because he’s so big, but he called me out, so I want to prove myself.

Any Welsh boxers that we should be looking out for coming up the ranks?

  • Rhys Edwards
  • Kieran Jones
  • Sammy Lee

And the women?

Lauren price! It’s exciting times for Welsh boxing.

What about women’s boxing – thoughts?

I have several women as part of my team. I think it’s great. Seeing the show that they put on is incredible, unbelievable! I do think they should do 3-minute rounds though instead of 2. Because in the 2’s they’re going hell for leather, and it’s exciting to watch but they need to slow down a bit.

What motivates you to fight?

At first it was about making my mum and dad proud, I never wanted to disappoint them, and it kept me away from trouble. Then secondly, it was for my own goals. I now have three children, two daughters and a son. And they are my main priority now, along with my wife – providing for them and looking after them.