Olympics 2012: Shields fights for gold medal in women's boxing; Esparza wins bronze

Shields is just 17 years old, but has all the physical and mental tools needed for success, capped off by her exuberance and aggression in the ring. Photo: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

SAN DIEGO, August 8, 2012 – America’s gold medal hope in boxing has the relentless attack of Mike Tyson, the punching power of George Foreman, and the brash charm of Muhammad Ali, but considers Sugar Ray Robinson her inspiration.

Yes, her. Middleweight Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan put on a show of tremendous force, crushing Marina Volnova of Kazahkstan, 29-15, for the right to face Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova, who won a close bout over China’s Li Jinzi, 12-10. Shields forced Volnova to take standing eight-counts in each of the last two rounds after she was rocked by vicious combinations. In a professional fight, it would have been over a lot sooner. 

“I was able to put my combinations together, land a lot of clean shots, punch straight… I did what I wanted to do with her,” said Shields.

United States’ Claressa Shields reacts to her victory in the middleweight semifinal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics over Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova (right) on Wednesday in London. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Shields is only 17 years old with two years of amateur experience, but fights with speed, power, and the kind of fierce attitude you cannot teach. What some might see as cocky, others see as the youthful exuberance of a teenager. It is hard to believe Shields is such a youngster.

After the bout, Shields said, “I’m thinking in my head, ‘Is it really true? Am I fighting for a gold medal tomorrow?’”

Yes, she is, and she will have a huge group of family, friends, and fans cheering her on from home in Flint, Michigan. Shields will also have the London crowds behind her, who love her attitude and style. Along with Shields, they’ll be rooting for flyweight Nicola Adams of Great Britain, who defeated odds-on favorite Mary Kom of India, 11-6; and lightweight Irish superstar world champion Katie Taylor, who defeated Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan, 17-9.

Hometown fans in Flint, Michigan have been getting up early to watch Claressa Shields boxing in Olympic competition at Blackstone’s Bar & Grill in Flint, Michigan including stepmother Lisa Shields (center) and her father Clarence (right foreground). AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Ryan Garza)

Adams will face world champion Ren Cancan of China, who defeated American Marlen Esparza in a close bout, 10-9. Esparza wins a bronze medal, but it was less than she hoped and she took the loss hard.

Esparza worked hard to force the defensive Cancan into actually fighting, but Cancan is experienced enough to throw just enough accurate counterpunches to score points and win. Several times the referee had to admonish Cancan and Esparza to engage.

Esparza, the first-generation daughter of Mexican parents who was an honors graduate from her Houston high school, put off going to college for the opportunity to box in the Olympics. At age 23, she says her boxing career is over and she will now attend Rice University as a pre-med student, with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. Gold medal or not, Esparza is a role model for young women everywhere. This country should ensure Esparza knows how proud her fellow Americans are of her. 

China’s Ren Cancan (left) defeats Marlen Esparza of the USA in their semi-final flyweight boxing content Wednesday. Esparza wins a bronze medal. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).

Taylor will face Russian Sofya Ochigava, who defeated Brazil’s Adriana Araujo, 17-11. Ochigava had plenty to say about her gold medal round opponant, claiming she was already at a disadvantage because of the raucous fans supporting Taylor.

All ten USA men’s boxing team members were shut out of the medal rounds. It will mark the first time in a modern Olympic Games that the most successful country in Olympic men’s boxing history has gone home without a medal. Meanwhile the three USA women’s boxers are two for three.

The gold medal bouts for the women are scheduled starting at 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, August 9, with Claressa Shields boxing for gold at approximately 6:15 a.m. Eastern Time. The bouts will be aired on CNBC starting at 6 a.m. Eastern Time Thursday.

Maybe now since beach volleyball competition will be over, NBC might be able to spare 15 minutes and air Shields’ gold medal match in prime time.


Associated Press contributed to this report.


Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She writes on professional cycling and covers the Sweet Science for Communities, along with other news in the sports world. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.


Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com” when quoting from or linking to this story.   



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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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