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Spoiler Alert! 17-Year-Old Claressa Shields Boxes Her Way To Olympic Gold

Spoiler Alert! 17-Year-Old Claressa Shields Boxes Her Way To Olympic Gold

Fantastic news!

Claressa Shields, 17, from Flint, Michigan, today won the Olympic middleweight gold medal in boxing, defeating Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova by 19 – 12.

2012 is the first year that women’s boxing has been featured at the Olympics, but not only is Shields the first woman to win boxing gold, she is also the only member of the 12-member American boxing team to win a gold medal in London.

Congratulations, Claressa!

Whether you love or hate boxing, you have to admit that this young woman is a champion and a trailblazer.

Here’s how CBS news describes her win:

The 17-year-old Shields shuffled, danced and slugged her way past her 33-year-old opponent, showing off the free-spirited style and brute strength that made her unbeatable at the London Games.

Shields even stuck her tongue out at Torlopova after ducking a few punches in the final round.

(….)

The teen sensation has won over the London crowd with a combination of style, skill and charisma.

Shields is the youngest boxer to win an Olympic gold medal since 16-year-old John Fields of the U.S. won the featherweight title at the 1924 Olympics, according to Reuters.

Shields has had a swift rise to fame.

The teenager was born and raised in Flint, Michigan and was only 11 when she took up boxing. 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.

She fell in love with the sport immediately and was soon training regularly at her local gym. Early on she met her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield, who has accompanied her to the Summer Games.

Jump forward to February 2012, and Shields, now 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. She had less than a year of high-level experience, but nevertheless Shields headed to the World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, in May 2012 to qualify for the Olympics.

In order to do that, she first had to appeal to members of a church in Flint for a few hundred dollars to pay for her airfare to China. She succeeded at that, but once in China, all her dreams nearly fell apart.

Even though she had a 26 – 0 record, not to mention a fierce determination to win, Shields almost didn’t make it to the team when she was upset by England’s Savannah Marshall. Thankfully, officials decided to place her on the team anyway. I imagine they are very happy today that they made that decision.

What an amazing young woman! Congratulations, Claressa!

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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

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49 comments

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1:17PM PDT on Sep 23, 2012

thanks

1:15AM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

Boxing is a brutal sport .... AND YET ... I loved Ali, and I very much wanted to see the first women's boxing in the Olympics. The McDonald's (?) ad she made was extremely funny. But somehow I missed the coverage. Very proud of this young woman who worked extremely hard to make her mark in a man's world.

11:43AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

Interesting.

4:51PM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

I'm not a fan of boxing for violent sports but still congratulate Claressa on her accomplishment. Very impressive for someone so young.

2:42PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

I do not see this as any sort of triumph for feminism or womens rights. I do not like boxing when it involves men, but I think it is particularly terrible to see 2 women fighting each other. Women are equal to men but are different physically and mentally. I feel this is degrading to women.

11:57AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

7:24AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Gene - I don't like it either, and cannot watch it. Don't understand the "draw" for folks who do like to watch it BUT -. Your argument that it is "morally wrong" doesn't really hold water. It is a natural thing for animals of all species to "sparr" with each other to prove strength. It's part of the way mother nature "wired" us. To do so in a controlled setting designed to prove dominance while minimizing injury is the difference between humans and the other animal species. For two able bodied ADULTS to undertake the beating up of each other is not immoral in that they choose to do this to each other and put themselves in harms way freely, knowing there could be injury. No one is forcing either of them to do anything they don't want to do. Now is it ok for a 16 or 17 yr. old? Maybe not, I'm not sure they have the ability as teenagers to understand the potential for injury to themselves down the road. Teenagers tend to think of themselves as invincible and may not make a good choice in that regard. I'm also not sure it's possible for us to know how much of M. Ali's current health problems stem from boxing vs Parkinson's disease. Comparing suicide bombers to boxers is absurd.
The bomber kills people who have no choice, no knowledge, no desire to "participate" - THAT is immoral.
To label people who love and choose an activity that you cannot relate to as immoral, is judgmental.

4:28AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Svaka cast

4:25AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

Men's boxing is bad enough, seeing bruised and swollen, broken noses or worse. Who on earth first started girls boxing I cannot imagine (and don't want to know) but personally I find it horrific and couldn't even bear to watch.

4:21AM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

thanks

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Judy Molland An award-winning writer and teacher, Judy Molland is also an avid hiker, backpacker, and nature... more
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