Olympics 2012: Claressa Shields wins USA’s first women’s boxing gold medal; Adams, Taylor also win gold
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon...
SAN DIEGO, August 9, 2012 – Americans have a new gold medalist in boxing and the Olympics has a hit on its hands with the successful debut of women’s boxing in London.
Middleweight Claressa Shields of Flint, Michigan made history along with Great Britain’s Natasha Adams and Ireland’s Katie Taylor, becoming the first gold medallists in the first ever women’s boxing competition in the Summer Olympic Games.
Shields also became the second youngest gold medal winner in Olympic Games boxing history among both men and women at age 17. American boxer John Fields won at age 16 in 1924 at the Paris Games.
Anyone who still doesn’t think women’s boxing belongs in the Games should go a few rounds with these accomplished, powerful ladies of the sweet science.
The self-assured 17-year-old Shields mowed down her opponent Russian Nadezda Torlopova in the gold medal round with little trouble. The final score was 19-12. Shields was simply too powerful, too quick, and too smart for Torlopova. She caused Torlopova to miss her frequently, had command of the ring and even stuck her tongue out at Torlopova in the final round. It seemed more like Shields was just enjoying herself so much rather than taunting the Russian boxer.
The boisterous crowd embraced Shields along with the victorious Britain and Irish champions before her, chanting “USA, USA” and making the ExCel Arena in London sound more like a soccer stadium. Among the many fans cheering her on: The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who appeared to be enjoying the action immensely.
Also on hand for the gold medal bouts was former two-time professional world boxing champion and Athens 2004 Olympic silver medal winner Amir Khan. The USA Boxing Team worked out at Khan’s gym in England two weeks before the Olympics and Khan had a chance to observe Shields. He liked what he saw.
After her victory, Khan said, “She puts punches together quite well. She’s quite clever, strong as well. She’s got a bloody great future ahead of her if she works hard, trains hard. I think she’ll go all the way.”
Shields, who has only been boxing two years, turned to the sport like many others to get away from a rough life outside the gym. “This was something I wanted for a long time, even when boxing wasn’t going all right, even when my life wasn’t going all right,” said Shields, “All I wanted was a gold medal, and I kept working towards it, even when people were saying I couldn’t do it. I’m too young. I couldn’t do it. There were girls who were going to beat me because of better experience, more experience. I proved them all wrong.”
Shields was giddy during the medal ceremony, dancing and laughing as if she still couldn’t quite believe she was there.
Shields is among the breakout performers in what has been one of the Olympic Games’ biggest hits in London. Fans have been fighting nearly as hard as the competitors just to get tickets. She follows in the footsteps of some of the greatest names in the sport including Cassius Clay, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Oscar de la Hoya in winning a gold medal. She is the first to win boxing gold since Andre Ward in 2004.
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