CLARESSA SHIELDS CLAIMS OLYMPIC GOLD FOR USA
By Doveed Linder
On Thursday in London, Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan, defeated Nadezda Torlopova of Russia with a score of 19-12 to claim the Olympic gold medal in the women's middleweight division. At age seventeen, Shields is the first female Olympic gold medalist from the United States, the only American boxer to win gold in 2012 and the second youngest boxer in history to win an Olympic gold medal.
Boxingtalk would like to congratulate Shields and wish her the very best in and out of the ring.
The following interview was given in October of 2011, when Shields had just made the Olympic Team and winning a gold medal was just a dream.
DL: When did you first start boxing?
CS: I was eleven. I started because my dad told me a story about Laila Ali and Muhammad Ali, so I went to the gym. And I trained for a day and then my coach said I had to get registered because I was under eighteen. So I asked my dad the next day and he said, ďNo.Ē He felt that boxing was a manís sport and I got mad and started crying and I didnít talk to him for like a day or so. And then he came and picked me up from school and he took me to his house and we all voted (on whether she could box or not). Him, his wife, his daughter and his stepson Ė they all voted. My dad was the only who said no. Everybody else said yeah, so he was outvoted. So I started boxing the next day.
DL: How long did you train before you had a fight and how did you like it at first?
CS: Two months. It was going good for me. I really enjoyed it. It was something I could be happy about. And I already liked fighting anyway.
DL: You were already a fighter?
CS: I was in elementary school and in the fifth grade I fought a few people. There was this one girlÖ She was in seventh grade and I was in fifth. I fought her because she was going to fight my little sister. I fought this boy also. I donít know how we started fighting, but I fought him and slammed him. And the teacher put on the referral sheet that I was ďextremely dangerous.Ē
DL: Well, itís better that youíre beating up people in the boxing gym than in school.
DL: What are the key moments in your amateur career so far?
CS: Key momentsÖ I would say all of them. I learn something from every fight, even when I get a first round TKO. My first fight was a key moment. I stopped the girl in the second round. I was real nervous for that fight. Not scared, I was just nervous. You know how we start out in the corner? We have to go to the middle of the ring to touch gloves and then we go back to the corner. Well, I came out of the corner jabbing. I was jabbing even before she was near me. And I kept jabbing and then I threw a right hand. I was just nervous. The girl had had two fights and it was my first. And she made me mad. She was holding my head and I was throwing a whole bunch of uppercuts. And after that, I just unloaded some stuff on her and the fight was over and she was crying.
DL: How did that feel?
CS: It felt real good. I love seeing girls cry.
DL: I heard you qualified for the 2012 Olympics.
CS: Yeah, I just qualified on Saturday. I donít know what that girlís record was, but I know that she won the world championship last year at 152 and she fought in some other tournaments.
DL: Did you stop her?
CS: No, I out-pointed her.
DL: Leon Lawson, Jr. (one of Andre Dirrellís trainers) told me that you are going to be the youngest girl ever to win the gold medal at the Olympics.
CS: I believe the same thing, but I have to train real hard for the next five months. I got to get in better shape. Iím already in shape, but Iíve been fighting juniors. I havenít been fighting women. So I have to get prepared for all the things these women are going to throw at me. All their strength and all their power and all that stuffÖ I just have to get stronger and faster and better. My coach has been teaching me new stuff. Itís hard in the gym, but itís easy in the fight.
DL: Would you like to say anything in closing?
CS: Itís all about FWC. Fielder Walker and Cavette. Our colors are gold and purple. Those are our boxing colors. And Iíve got one of the best coaches. Jason Thou Crutchfield. Heís almost like my dad. Heís the man.