Born on March 17, 1995, Claressa Shields grew up in Flint, Michigan, and began boxing when she was only 11 years old. By 2012, at age 17, she was 26–0, but a loss at the Women's World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, nearly derailed her Olympic dreams. Less than a week after her first loss, however, Shields's years of hard work paid off when she was named to the American Olympic Team. At the Summer Olympic Games, Shields won an Olympic middleweight gold medal in a 19-12 victory over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova.
Claressa Shields was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, and she took up boxing at the age of 11 after her father introduced her to the sport, taking her to a local gym to see fighters in action and telling her about Laila Ali's prowess in the ring. Although her father then told her that boxing was a sport for men, Shields was hooked on the idea of pursuing it. She began training regularly, until she was at the gym daily, eschewing activities she saw her classmates doing, such as going to parties and dating. It was early on that she met her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield, who will accompany her to the Summer Games.
Fast-forward a few years to February 2012, and Shields, then 16—and the youngest boxer in the field—was a sensation at the trials for the first U.S. women's boxing team, winning three straight bouts in the middleweight division. One of the bouts was a dominant performance against top-seeded Franchon Crews, a five-time national champion. With less than a year of high-level experience, Shields then looked to May’s World Championship as the gateway to joining the Olympic team.
Meeting with Olympic Dreams
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, female boxers will step into the ring for the first time to compete for Olympic gold, and Claressa Shields headed to the World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, in May 2012 to qualify to become one of those boxers. With a 26–0 record and a fierce reputation, the Games were just a step away. But when Shields was upset by England’s Savannah Marshall, her dreams were put on hold. Less than a week later, though, Shields was named to the team when Marshall won her semifinal bout and moved on to the finals of the middleweight division.
Before the World Championships, Shields was quoted as saying, "It would mean everything to me to get a spot [on the Olympic squad] so that people could stop calling me an 'Olympic hopeful.'" In 2012, Shields hopes came true when she became a member of the first U.S. women's Olympic boxing team.
At the Summer Olympic Games, Shields won an Olympic middleweight gold medal, in a 19-12 victory over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova.
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