A towering heavyweight fighting out of New Zealand, Joseph Parker was born in South Auckland on January 9, 1992. His father, Dempsey, was named after legendary American pugilist Jack Dempsey and trained young Joseph starting at only three years of age. When he was 10, he started training at Papatoetoe Boxing Club.
He began fighting as an amateur two years later when he was 12, and he ended up achieving quite a bit of success. In 2009, he won the New Zealand Golden Gloves Tournament. In 2010 and 2011, he was the nation’s amateur heavyweight champion. His final amateur match was a victory over Johan Linde, the gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics, to win gold at the Belgrade annual boxing tournament.
Parker was being hyped up quite a bit before his professional debut on July 5, 2012 against Dean Garmonsway, and he performed well in scoring a second-round TKO. His next fight was a second-round KO, and then he earned two more TKOs, each time showing off improved skills and natural punching power. He showed that he had the ability to go the distance in his next fight on May 16, 2013, winning a six-round unanimous decision over Brice Ritani-Coe.
He took a big step up in competition for his next fight, which was against long-time heavyweight contender Francois Botha, albeit on the downside of his career. Still, Joseph Parker showed he could stop high-level fights, as he notched another TKO in round two. That earned him his first title shot on October 10, 2013, as he fought Afa Tatupu for the NZNBF heavyweight belt. Once again, it was a dominant performance, as he won again by second-round TKO.
Next, he traveled to Oberhausen, Germany to fight Marcelo Luiz Nascimento for the PABA interim heavyweight title, which he won after winning by TKO in the seventh round. He went back to New Zealand for his next fight, where he stopped Brian Minto after seven rounds and picked up the WBO Oriental heavyweight title for his troubles. Parker would go on to defend his belts several times.
Running his record to 14-0, he then fought Bowie Tupou for the WBO Africa and OPBF heavyweight titles. It didn’t take him long, as he won the fight by KO in the very first round. In his next fight, a third-round TKO over Kali Meehan, he added the EPBC and WBA Oceania heavyweight belts to his collection.
Nearing the end of 2016, Joseph Parker had built up an impressive 21-0 record with 18 victories by stoppage, and perhaps most impressive was how little he had been tested. With his power and skill, it was clear he had potential to be a force in the division. On December 10, 2016, he fought for the WBO heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz. It was a close, competitive contest with both men having their moments. Ruiz was the sharper fighting in the early going and towards the end of the fight, but Parker took the middle rounds, which was enough to earn him the majority decision victory. This made him the first man from New Zealand to win a major heavyweight championship.