A new phenomenon hit the canvas at the US Olympic Women's Trials in Spokane when the talented teenager, Claressa Shields, surprised onlookers as she claimed the gold medal in the middleweight division. Not only that, but she also managed to secure the right to represent her nation at the 7th AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao, China.
Currently, in the United States there are more than 3,000 registered women boxers and the country has achieved admirable results at past major events. It seems new talents are appearing and adding on to the already impressive team each year.
Claressa Shields, born in 1995, will be celebrating her 17th birthday on March 17. She was trained by Jason Crutchfield at the FWC Berston Gym in Flint, Michigan. Crutchfield is the only coach who ever prepared her for battle and he proudly made it known that Shields is even stronger than most of the men boxers in their club.
Claressa has been training since 2006 and began her boxing career after having heard of Laila Ali from her father. Another big influence for the young starlet was one of her best friends at Dailey Elementary School, Eddie Dean. Dean boxed at the Berston Field House Gym and after joining him there one day and testing out the combat sport in the training venue, she was hooked. Shields is still a true teenager, wearing a pair of Betty Boop socks, she studies at Flint North-western High School but straight after lessons she hits the gym for full-speed and hard-hitting training.
The first moment of shining glory for Shields came when she won the US Junior National Championships in Camp Lejeune in 2010. Since, she has upheld her clean sweep and to this day remains unbeaten.
She made her debut among the elite boxers at the US National PAL Championships last October. Here, Claressa Shields destroyed US National Champion, Chatiqua Hemingway in the quarter-finals and stopped the sturdy Dara Shen dead in her tracks in the semi-final stage of the tournament. Punching for gold, Shields defeated current AIBA World Champion, Andrecia Wasson by a large margin of points (31:13) and took home the medal.
At the US Olympic Trials, Shields found herself a hopeful medal contender in the middleweight class at Spokane and managed to make her dreams come true. She won all of her four bouts in the event. First, she demonstrated her impeccable technique against US National Champion, Franchon Crews and went on to defeat the reigning AIBA World Champion, 20-year-old Andrecia Wasson for the second time in her journey at the Trials.
Triumph was hers as she overcame Chatiqua Hemingway by 23:15 in her third contest thereby advancing to the final of the US National Trials. Following Hemingway's next victory, Shields came toe to toe with her yet again for the gold medal and a place on the US squad. The teenager from Flint showed her determination and prowess once more, she won the entire event by beating Chatiqua Hemingway 23:18 in the final.
Joining Miss Shields on the US squad, following their respective successes, will be bronze medallist, 22-year-old Marlen Esparza. Representing the Olympic flyweight category, Esparza won all of her contests in Spokane, defeating Christina Cruz and Tyriesha Douglas. She will be representing her country at the 7th AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in China in May.
AIBA World Championships bronze medallist, 28-year-old Queen Underwood, who almost stunned Ireland's superstar Katie Taylor into submission in the last edition of the worldwide event, secured her place on the US team representing the lightweight division. She had two close calls fighting against N'yteeyah Sherman and Mikaela Mayer in the final but Underwood was able to keep her Olympic dreams alive in Spokane.
The winners of the Olympic Trials will now prepare for the forthcoming 7th AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships, which is the only qualification event for London. The boxers will need to lock their position in the top eight in order to be qualified for the Games, Shields and her compatriots are certainly ones to watch.
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