Claressa Shields – An American Hero

  Caressa Shields is a young woman from the poor and desperate inner city slums of America who made Olympic history by becoming the first American Boxer, male or female,
21 Jan 2017 12:00
Claressa Shields – An American Hero
Claressa Shields grow up in a dangerous environment and overcame a scarred childhood to become a famed two-time Olympic gold medal winning boxer.


Caressa Shields is a young woman from the poor and desperate inner city slums of America who made Olympic history by becoming the first American Boxer, male or female, to win an Olympic title twice in a row.

Born March 17, 1995 she grew up on the mean and dangerous streets of Flint Michigan in a very poor and drug infested environment.

Her father, Clarence Shields, was serving a long stint in jail and Claressa was not reunited with him until she was nine years old. His conviction was for aggravated robbery and breaking and entering.

The story gets worse as her mother, Marcella, struggled with drug addiction and had so many men coming and going in their house that it was difficult to remember who was who.

Growing up, Claressa didn’t always have food on the table and the family received food stamps, but the food stamps never seemed to turn into actual food. Instead they were traded for drugs.

This poverty and drugs cycle decimated the family and this is where she started to be the victim of molestation and rape at the tender age of five years old.

Whenever her mother got a new boyfriend they would also be a drug user and ultimately some would start to touch and feel her.

Claressa was also sexually molested by her youngest brother’s father every day after school as this cycle got more and more extreme.

When Claressa was about six years, her mother was employed for a while at a local Wal-Mart store. While her mother worked a family acquaintance would take her into a room and molest her and ultimately rape her.

The reason Claressa gave as to why the sexual predators chose to prey on her is the fact that she could not talk and only began to speak after the age of five years.

There was nothing she could do as she was in a desperate position where as a young child she could not communicate these instances with anybody.

When Claressa was nine years old her dad was finally released from prison and he began to be the father figure she had so longed for in her childhood years.

At the age of 11, he bought her along to the boxing gym and this is where Claressa finally found her comfort and spiritual home.

She would train day and night getting better and better as days and months went by both in technique and fitness.

By the time she was only 16 years old, she was winning all her bouts and was selected to try out for the Olympic trials to be part of the US women’s boxing team, and ended up winning all three fights in the middleweight division to secure her place as an Olympic representative for the USA.

At only 17-years-old, she travelled to London to participate in the Olympic Games and against all the odds won the pinnacle of her sport by taking the gold medal.

This was a stunning and great achievement, but four years later, this time at the Rio Olympics, at the age of just 21-years-old, she won the gold again in women’s middleweight boxing.

Claressa has fought 78 times as an amateur boxer, and has won 77 times – an incredible feat in itself.

In addition to winning Olympic gold twice, she won the amateur world championships in 2014 and 2016 and gold as a light heavyweight at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Despite having a very scarred childhood, Claressa has finally managed to use her platform to speak out and advocate for women’s rights and also against the evils of sexual assault of any kind.

This indeed is a strong woman both mentally and physically, who against the extreme odds has managed to find Olympic glory.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

 The writer is a Fiji Sun  columnist.



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