Claressa Maria Shields is an American professional boxer and arguably the greatest woman boxer of all time.
Shields was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, where she was a high school junior in May 2012. She was introduced to boxing by her father, Bo Shields, who had boxed in underground leagues. Bo was in prison from the time Shields was two years old, and released when she was nine. After his release, he talked to her about boxer Laila Ali, piquing her interest in the sport. Bo, however, believed that boxing was a men’s sport and refused to allow Shields to pursue it until she was eleven. At that time she began boxing at Berston Field House in Flint, where she met her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield. Shields credits her grandmother with encouraging her to not accept restrictions based on her gender.
Shields is from Flint, Michigan. Shields was baptized at age 13 (two years after she began boxing) and began attending a local church. She found strength in her Christian faith and eventually left home.
She has held multiple world championships in three weight classes, including the undisputed female light middleweight title since March 2021; the undisputed female middleweight title from 2019 to 2020; and the unified WBC and IBF female super middleweighttitles from 2017 to 2018. Shields currently holds the record for becoming a two and three-weight world champion in the fewest professional fights. As of July 2022, she is ranked as the world’s best active female middleweight.
Shields is the only boxer in history, female or male, to hold all four major world titles in boxing—WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO—simultaneously, in two weight classes.
In a decorated amateur career, Shields won gold medals in the women’s middleweight division at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, making her the first American boxer to win consecutive Olympic medals. Shields was the youngest boxer at the February 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, winning the event in the 165 lb (75 kg) middleweight division. In May, she qualified for the 2012 games, the first year in which women’s boxing was an Olympic event, and went on to become the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. Her only loss professional or amateur comes from British fighter Savannah Marshall.
In 2018, the Boxing Writers Association of America named her the Female Fighter of the Year.
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