Who is Claressa Shields?
Claressa Shields is a professional American boxer who is the first American boxer to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. She is also one of the only seven boxers in the world who holds all the major boxing titles. Shields was born and grew up in a rough neighbourhood in Michigan. She had a tough childhood with her father in jail and her mother grappling with drug problems. At a very young age, she became the adult in the family, taking care of her younger siblings. She got interested in boxing hearing stories of boxing legend Laila Ali from her father who himself had been a boxer. She took to boxing with a passion and early on in her career became a two-time Junior Olympic Champion. She followed this up by winning Olympic Gold medals and World boxing championships. Wishing to make boxing a popular sport on TV, Shields turned to professional boxing. Her boxing matches were telecast as main events on TV networks She continues to have a very successful run on the professional circuit and is currently the undisputed queen of boxing.
Childhood & Early Life
Claressa Shields was born in Flint, Michigan, USA on March 17, 1995. Her parents are Marcella Adams and Bo Shields and she has three siblings Briana Shields, Artis Mack and Dusable Lewis.
When she was two years old, her father, Bo Shields, went to prison and he came out when she was nine. Bo Shields had been a professional underground league boxer. He would often talk to Claressa about boxing and the boxing legend Laila Ali which got her interested in boxing.
Claressa Shields started training to be a boxer when she was eleven years old. She trained at ‘Berston Field House’ in Flint. It was here that she met her future coach Jason Crutchfield.
She recalls that initially Crutchfield saw her as someone soft who did not know how to box. On the other hand, there were her friends who did not understand her love for what they saw as a violent sport.
Shields had a difficult childhood with an absent father and a mother with drug problems. By the time she was a teenager, she was taking care of her younger siblings feeding them and getting them ready for school. She herself continued going to high school and training whenever she wasn’t in school.
It was Shield’s grandmother and another aunt who provided the much-needed support. She also got baptised at the of age 13 and found solace in Christianity.
Shields has said that she moved 11 homes in 12 years. However, in spite of all the turmoil, she managed to finish her high school. She was a good student who had taken honors classes all through high school.
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Career as an Amateur Boxer
Claressa Shields started her career as an amateur boxer. At the start of her career she won the ‘Junior Olympic Championship’ twice.
In 2011 she participated in the ‘National Police Athletic League Championship’. She competed in the middleweight category and won it.
At the Olympic trials in 2012, she was the youngest boxer. She won the 165-pound weight class. In the same year, Shields got her first Olympic Gold at the London Olympic Games. She beat Russian Nadezda Torlopova to win it.
In 2015, she became the ‘Pan American Games’ champion. She is the first American woman to ever win this title.
Shields won a gold medal in the ‘AMBC Olympic Qualifying Tournament’ in Argentina in 2016. In the ‘Rio Summer Olympics’ held the same year she defeated Dutch boxer Nouchka Fontijn in the middleweight category to win a gold medal.
As an amateur boxer she had 77 wins and one loss. Shields became a professional boxer in November 2016.
Career as a Professional Boxer
Claressa Shields took on opponent Szilvia Szabados in the ‘North American Boxing Federation’ middleweight championship and won the title. This televised event held on March 10, 2017, was the first time that a woman’s boxing event was the main event on the United States TV network ‘Shobox’.
On August 4, 2017, in another event telecast on the network ‘Showtime’ Shields defeated four times defending champion Nikki Adler to become the ‘WBC’ super-middleweight champion.
On June 22, 2018, Claressa Shields set yet another record. She beat Hanna Gabriel and became a two-weight professional champion gaining this title in the fewest number of fights.
Shields defeated Christina Hammer by unanimous decision on April 13, 2019. With this win, she had WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO middleweight titles under her belt making her one of the few boxers to achieve this.
Awards & Achievements
Claressa Shield’s fascinating life became the subject of the 2015 documentary ’T-Rex: Her fight for gold’. The film chronicles her life, from the adversities she faced while growing up to the time she won the Olympic gold.
In 2017 she won the ‘Biggest Powerhouse’ of the ‘Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Award’. This award is given to the best athletes in the world who are chosen mainly by kids through online voting.
In 2018, the ‘Boxing Writers Association of America’ named her the ‘Female Fighter of the Year’. The same year she was inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ of the ‘USA Boxing Alumni Association’.
Family & Personal Life
Claressa Shields has deep-rooted faith in God which helped her through her childhood and her difficult early years in boxing. She also credits her grandmother with giving her the belief that being a girl should not affect what she did.
In 2014 Shields and her boyfriend Ardreal Holmes also a boxer, adopted her cousin’s baby and named her Klaressa. For eight months things went well till she and her cousin had a fallout. Shields had to return the baby which was a traumatic experience for her.
Apart from boxing she enjoys traveling, swimming and playing with kids. She is also very active in the welfare of her city and played an important part in highlighting the lead contamination crisis that Flint faced.
Laila Ali has gone on record to say that Shields was not talented enough to beat her. Shields took offence and reacted on Twitter which started a war of words between the two. Ali finally said that if the money was right she would come out of retirement to settle matters in the boxing ring.