Tuesday, August 14, 2012

claressa shields, olympic champion.

american middleweight boxer claressa shields,
a 17yo high-school senior from flint, michigan,
beat russia's nadezda torlopova 19-12
to become the only team usa fighter to win the gold
in the inaugural year for women's olympic boxing.

for the first time, the winningest nation in boxing history
got no medals from its men's team. none of other
eleven american boxers even reached a gold-medal match.

claressa, who lives with her single mom & two younger siblings,
began boxing at age eleven upon hearing her father,
a former amateur boxer, speak about laila ali,
who followed in her father's famous floating footsteps.

"there were people who were telling me
i couldn't do this," claressa says.
"whenever somebody doubts me, it makes me push harder.
so actually, the haters kind of helped."

claressa's big win made her not only
the first american women's boxer to win gold, but also
the second-youngest american fighter ever to win gold
[the youngest was 16yo john fields, 88 years ago], &
the youngest american olympic boxer since
16 yo davey lee armstrong 40 years ago.

naturally, it also made claressa a hometown hero &
a great inspiration for the african-american girls of flint,
where the wrong path can be hard to avoid.

"when i used to go running, i'd see all these crackheads,"
recounts claressa. "i just didn't want to be like them.
i wanted it to be where my little sister & brother & my mom
would never have to go without a meal again. "

flint councilman bryant nolden called claressa
"a rose that grew out of a concrete jungle;
& if a rose can grow through concrete,
then you know must be extremely resilient."

asked what she thought of as she watched
the u.s. flag raise to the rafters, claressa answered,
"i was thinking, 'god knows my heart.'"

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