Anthony Joshua has told Will Smith he’s “proud” of him after the Hollywood star struck Chris Rock during the Oscars ceremony on Sunday night. And Joshua joked the actor should have aimed a closed fist at the comedian rather than his palm.

The Oscars descended into chaos at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles after Rock took to the stage to present the award for the best documentary. Rock proceeded to make an ill-advised joke about the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has been open in the past about suffering from alopecia.

Smith rushed onto the stage and hit Rock with an open-palm as the stunned audience looked on. “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me,” a visibly shaken Rock professed. And after marching back to his seat, Smith twice bellowed: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.”

The altercation hit the headlines around the world, with Rock opting not to press charges. And boxing champ AJ had some words of advice for Smith. “Proud of you bro,” Joshua wrote on his Instagram page. “Next time close your fist @WillSmith.”

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Joshua met Smith after landing a gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012 and his advice to the A-Lister was accompanied by a picture of the two working on the pads together. And Joshua has previously spoken about the encounter.

“Sparring with Will Smith was good,” Joshua told BBC Breakfast. “He played the part of [Muhammad] Ali so I didn’t want to get too carried away. I wanted to keep my guard up. He’s great, honestly he’s really good. He went into his Ali and all this. It really took him back taking him on the pads.”


Smith went on to win his first ever Oscar on Sunday night as he walked away with the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Serena and Venus, in King Richard. And a tearful Smith apologised for the earlier incident during his acceptance speech.

“I know to do what we do, you gotta be able to take abuse, and you gotta be able to have people talk crazy about you,” Smith said. “In this business, you gotta be able to have people disrespecting you and you gotta smile and you gotta pretend like that‘s okay. I want to apologise to the Academy, I want to apologise to all my fellow nominees.

“This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about being able to shine a light on all of the people. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said. I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things.”