Claressa Shields, London Olympic boxing champion, and three-time World Championship winner is back to secure yet another gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
The 19-year-old completed her quarter-final match against Russia’s Laroslava Iakushina today, August 17, and won 3-0. She has yet to lose a game since her win at the London Olympics, and it seems that there is no stopping the determined and talented teenager.
Shields has used boxing to change the narrative of her life filled with hardships. Born in Flint, Michigan, known to be one of the most dangerous cities in the USA, her father was in prison for most of her life, leaving her mother to raise her. She spoke about her suspicions of her mother selling their food stamps to purchase drugs and how unknown men would be in and out of the house, some of whom she said had molested her.
She was introduced to boxing by her father who would take her to a local gym to see the fights and would tell her about Muhammed Ali along with his daughter, Laila Ali, who followed in his footsteps. Although her father coined boxing as a man’s sport, this did not deter her from her fascination by it and at the age of 11, she started training in the field.
Her coach, Jason Crutchfield, trained her all the way through to the Summer Games in London. That year was historic for female athletes as it was the first time women boxers were allowed to compete in the Olympics. Shields made her way to the World Championships in Qinhuangdo, China, in May 2012 to qualify to be one of the first ever female Olympic boxers in history. With an incredible record of 26-0, this young lady was a shoe in.
At the tender age of 16, Shields was a middleweight force to be reckoned with and the youngest in the field. She conquered her division and took home the gold medal after her 19-12 victory against Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova. Since then, she has won three World Championships, which led her to qualify for this year’s Rio Olympics where she has been one of the many Black female athletes slaying on international television showing the world that the power of the Black Women can and never will be suppressed.
In spite of Shields’ fierce wins, she had seen little recognition since the Summer Olympics, which is ironic because athletes are often bombarded with potential endorsements and praise after they take home the gold medal.
Why has Claressa Shields received little recognition?
Shields admitted to a disappointing lack of change in her life since her first Olympic win. She stated that it was due to the fact that she was “not what they were looking for”; she truthfully spoke of how she was not the average woman hunted to be on magazine covers or billboards.
She was not pretty or lady-like enough to be the face of any sporting company or product. Alas, Shields’ experience is unfortunately unsurprising in a male dominated sport, and world, where black women have to work two, three times as hard to be taken seriously.
Luckily, the ways of the cruel world have not deterred this powerful woman who is on her way to the Rio Olympics semifinals against Kazakhstan’s Dariva Shakimova, which will take place on Friday, 19 August at 14:30 VET.
May Shields continue in her success.