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Claressa Shields Becomes First US Female Middleweight to Win Gold

  Claressa Shields Becomes First US Female Middleweight to Win Gold

On paper it sounds like the next Rocky movie. A 17-year-old American Olympian coming from humble beginnings in Flint, Michigan battles her way to a gold medal, past a Russian fighter nearly twice her age. But what may feel like a Hollywood fairy tale for young Claressa Shields is a proud moment for USA boxing, as she becomes the first U.S. athlete to win the women’s middleweight gold medal.

On paper it sounds like the next Rocky movie.  A 17-year-old American Olympian coming from humble beginnings in Flint, Michigan battles her way to a gold medal, past a Russian fighter nearly twice her age.  But what may feel like a Hollywood fairy tale for young Claressa Shields is a proud moment for USA boxing, as she becomes the first U.S. athlete to win the women’s middleweight gold medal.

Shields defeated Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova by a margian of 19-12 on Thursday to earn the gold- the first Olympic gold awarded to a female middleweight fighter.  

“All I wanted was a gold medal,” said Shields, a student at Flint Northwestern High School. “There were girls who were going to beat me because of better experience, more experience. I proved them all wrong.”

The fight began relatively even, with a score of 3-3 after the opening round.  But after back-to-back decisive victories in the next two rounds, it was all smiles for the American, who the New York Times has compared to the great Muhammad Ali.  

On the podium, Shields was elated, even tossing her head back in laughter and resisting the urge to stare at the hardware hanging from her neck.  "It just made me laugh,” she said.  "I couldn't believe this medal was in front of me now.”  However unbelievable or unprecedented, the results of Thursday’s bout are undeniable.  Claressa Shields is a gold-medal Olympian with her own special place in the history books- and all before her 18th birthday.

Image via Getty. 

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Annie Hollenbeck