Claressa Shields, the 17-year old gold medalist in boxing for the United States, felt that she needed to carry her country on her back and finally bring the gold home to the United States.
She won the gold medal in the women’s middleweight class, defeating Nadezda Torlopova from Russia in the gold medal match.
Shields is from embattled Flint, Michigan, and was just 16 when she qualified for the US trials. She barely qualified, because if her birthday had been after September, she would have been too young to compete. Her gold medal was a major feat for the US, since our country hasn’t ever won the gold in any women’s Olympic boxing event.
“I hope people who think women can’t box know better now,” Shields said. “They saw me get down.”
Torlopova, a 33-year old mother of a 12-year old son, was much older than Shields and appeared defeated from the start. Shields seemed to take her down easy.
“I tried to overpower her, to get inside,” Torlopova said, “but she was faster and quicker.”
Shields’ family has also been impacted by the incarceration epidemic in the United States. Her father went to prison for seven years before returning home. When he finally had a chance to spend time with his daughter, he taught her how to box, making her an Olympic champion in the process. Clarence Shields, her father, was not able to see his daughter compete in person, since convicted felons have a hard time getting visas to travel outside the United States.
She called her father every day in London and he coached her in every way that he could. Congratulations to Ms. Shields and her family.