A Gold Medalist Still Fighting For Recognition

At 20, Claressa Shields is one of the fiercest and most accomplished living fighters today, with an Olympic gold medal and more than 50 wins to her name. Yet despite all her victories, she remains a relative unknown outside of the boxing world – and that’s something she’s determined to change.

A trailer for T-Rex, a forthcoming documentary about Claressa Shields

Originally from Flint, Michigan, Shields has been boxing since the age of 11. For most of her early life, Claressa’s father was in prison. So when, at the age of 9, she heard that he dreamed of being a boxer, she resolved to take up the sport as a sort of tribute to him.

She advanced rapidly through the ranks, eventually qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games. For her, a gold medal meant a path to a better life. The sponsorships and endorsements she’d get from winning would certainly allow her family to move away from Flint’s grinding poverty. But those contracts never materialized, even after Claressa defeated Russian boxer Nadezda Torlopova to win the Olympic middleweight title.

“At first it was pretty hard to accept,” Shields says about the lack of recognition she received after the Olympics. “I sacrificed my whole life to represent America, and America isn’t doing anything back to be supportive…I was just like ‘Wow, what did I do it for?’”

Now, with a year left before the next Olympic Games, Shields is arguably more determined than ever to make a name for herself. Motivated by an unshakable belief in her own abilities and sense of destiny, Shields maintains a rigorous training schedule, constantly pushing herself to be a better fighter.

“That’s why I box,” she says. “Because I know I can be something great.”

After the Olympics, Shields says she intends to go professional, but for now she’s focusing on her next fight. She’ll compete in the Pan American Games in Toronto in July.

The Toughest Teen in the World

Claressa Shields is one of the highest ranked fighters in the world. At the age of 17 she became the first American to win gold in Olympic Women's Boxing. To date, she has more than fifty victories and only one loss. So what's it like to be one of the toughest teen fighters in the world? Charles Monroe-Kane called Claressa to find out.

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