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Flint native becomes a first-time female boxing Olympian

Claressa Shields / COURTESY PHOTO

Staff Report

This August the world will see, for the first time ever, women’s boxing in the Summer Olympics and Michiganders will beam with pride at Flint native Claressa Shields, who will compete for the gold in the Middle Weight Division. There will be three women’s boxing events: fly weight, light weight and middle weight. The 17-year-old boxer qualified for the Olympic boxing event earlier this year when, as the youngest boxer in her weight class —165 pounds — she defeated national champion Franchon Crews at the February trials.

Shields had a close call in May when she lost her first-ever fight to England’s Savannah Marshall, bringing her record to 26-1, at the 2012 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in China.

It was reported prior to the teen boxing sensation’s first bout that she needed to place in the top eight; however, the day before her first bout the rules changed, noting that she needed to finish in the top two. She won the first bout but lost the second to Marshall. Still she qualified for a place at the 2012 Olympics.

She said in an Associated Press report prior to the match in China that “it would mean everything to me to get a spot so that people could stop calling me an ‘Olympic hopeful.’ I know I can do it. I’m telling everyone I will be there.”

The first-time Olympian did “do it” and she will “be there” boxing with some of the world’s best female boxers.

Shields’ story has been told in magazines and news media, inside and outside of the sports realm, all over the world. She was recently written about in Essence, Jet and Seventeen magazines. But her newfound world fame did not come without hard work and dedication.

Shields, who will be entering into her senior year in high school in the fall, has been boxing since she was 11 years old. Her father, Bo Shields, who she met at the age of 9 when he was released from prison, has been reported as the catalyst for her career in boxing. Bo Shields, who boxed in underground leagues, shared boxing stories with his daughter, stories that included female boxer Laila Ali, daughter of the great heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali.

Claressa Shields started boxing at Berston Field House in Flint, where she met her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield.

Crutchfield, who says he plans to be with Shields in London for the Olympics, was not able to travel to China and blamed himself for her loss.

Since then, she has added two Junior Olympic Championships under her belt and a National Police Athletic League Championship, where she was named the top overall fighter. Her performance in the Junior Olympics and PAL Championships qualified her for the U.S. Olympic trials in February, where she not only defeated the reigning national champion Crews, she also defeated the 2010 World Champion Andrecia Wasson. And in April she won a title at the American Boxing Confederation’s Women’s Elite Continental Championships.

Shields will fight in the Women’s Olympic Boxing Events Aug. 5, 6, 8 and 9. Medal events are scheduled for Aug. 9.


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