Boxer Claressa Shields,17, Reaches Olympic Semifinal, Where A Medal Awaits

Aug 6, 2012
Originally published on August 6, 2012 6:44 pm

U.S. Olympic boxer Claressa Shields, the teenager whose dream of being in the first crop of Olympic women boxers led her to tell her story on All Things Considered back in February, will fight for a medal in London.

A native of Flint, Mich., Shields, 17, won her first middleweight bout in an 18-14 decision, reaching the semifinal round and guaranteeing her at least a bronze medal. In boxing, the two losers of the semifinal fights both win bronze. But she has a shot at gold or silver, if Shields can get past Kazakhstan's Marina Volnova. Their boxing match is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

As she told NPR and Radio Diaries, Shields would live at the gym if she could. Here's more of her story, from February:

"Claressa attributes her start in boxing to her father, Clarence Shields, an amateur underground boxer who was nicknamed "Cannonball" because of his fast, hard punches. Clarence went to prison when Claressa was 2 and didn't come out until she was 9, but Claressa clearly remembers the stories her father shared from his fighting days."

"When Claressa first asked Clarence if she could box, he told her that boxing was a man's sport. 'That made me so mad,' Claressa recalls. But she wouldn't give up on the idea, and when she was 11 years old, her father finally brought her to the gym."

"'I'm going to be honest, my first thought was you would get beat up and quit," her father tells her. But Claressa proved him wrong."

"'I'm still proving people wrong,' she says."

This is the first Olympics to have women's boxing as an official medal sport.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Yesterday was a historic day for boxing. For the first time ever, women competed for Olympic medals in the sport. And today in the ring, a boxer we featured on this program back in February, a high school student from Flint, Michigan.

CLARESSA SHIELDS: Well, we're going to start with - my name is Claressa Shields. I've been boxing since I was 11.

CORNISH: Independent producers, Joe Richman and Sue Jaye Johnson of Radio Diaries, followed Claressa as she prepared for and competed in the Olympic boxing trials.

SHIELDS: My record is 19 and 0. Yeah, undefeated.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce...

SHIELDS: I have this dream, I'm in London and it's the finals in the Olympics. I can hear the announcer. I mean, they're going to say it like, and the first woman Olympian, at 165 pounds, is Claressa Shields.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Claressa Shields.

CORNISH: Well, today in London, Shields got one big step closer to that dream. She won her first bout and advanced to the semifinal round, the final four in the middleweight category. And that means she is guaranteed a medal because in boxing, the two losers in the semifinal round both receive bronze.

On Wednesday, if Claressa Shields wins, she'll go on to compete for the gold medal.


CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.