by FaLessia Booker
Although she is only 19, Olympic Gold medalist Claressa Shields, the feisty fighting phenom from Flint (say that five times fast!), is poised to once again take the Olympic world by storm. In the 2012 Summer Games, Shields won an Olympic middleweight gold medal against Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova. Though the Summer Olympic Games in which she competes as a women’s boxer don’t take place until 2016, for her preparation begins now. In fact, it never stopped…
Growing up on the North side of Flint, Michigan, as the second oldest of four children, Claressa Shields kept herself out of trouble by staying focused on schoolwork. A quiet child, Shields began boxing at Berston Field House at the age of 11, which also kept her out of the streets. Claressa was introduced to boxing by her father, Bo Shields, who was also a boxer. She became close with her father after his release from prison when Shields was nine. Claressa says, “My dad helped me understand a lot about myself–the things I was curious about, like why I laugh so loud, and why I had a quick temper. When I met my father, those questions were answered. Me and my dad laugh the same, very loud and my dad can be mean at times, but he’s sweet and loving, just like me.”
Claressa Shields hasn’t always wanted to be a boxer. When Shields was little, she wanted to be a singer. She says she’s a good singer, and she could really sing Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going” from the movie soundtrack, “Dreamgirls.”
Since the Olympics are two years away, Claressa needs to keep competing to keep in top physical condition. Despite recovering from a nasty episode of food poisoning which sidelined her for two days, Claressa won her most recent fight in Mexico against Flavia Figueiredo from Brazil at the 2014 Elite Women’s Continental Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico, bringing her record to an impressive 46-1, with 18 knockouts. “Well, that fight was amazing to me,” Claressa says. “My opponent had an advantage because I was sick, but God pulled me through. I’ll be way better in South Korea!”
Most people would be surprised to learn that Claressa is a mother to a baby girl that she adopted. She is named after her mother, with a slight change in spelling: her daughter’s name is Klaressa. Shields said that she wanted to have a baby when she turned eighteen, but of course her active boxing career prevented that. However she was able to adopt the daughter of a family friend, satisfying her urge for mother in a way that wouldn’t derail her boxing career. Despite a busy training schedule, Shields is a typical teenager. In her spare time, Claressa likes to go to the mall, text on her phone, and plan outings with friends.
Other than the obvious, winning a gold medal, Shields is most proud of graduating last year from Northwestern High School with a 3.0 GPA. Claressa is taking a break this semester from Olivet College, where she was studying business and journalism. She found the college life to be too busy with her training and fighting schedule, and special concessions weren’t made for her to train and go to school simultaneously. Claressa plans to return soon and focus her studies on business. She says that even though she could, she definitely does not want to participate in the 2020 Olympic Games. She wants to pursue boxing professionally, and after retiring become a sportscaster.
Her next fight is at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Jeju City, South Korea to be held November 13-25. In regards to the upcoming bout, Shields says, “I feel very confident and prepared. I love boxing, and I’ll leave it all in the ring to stand in first place on the podium.”
Read her article in Courageous Woman Magazine.