Claressa Shields, a 21-year-old from Flint, Michigan, made history in the 2012 London Olympics by becoming the first woman in U.S. history to win a gold medal in Olympic boxing.
While women’s boxing was featured in the 1904 Games, it was relegated to demonstration bouts only. The year 2012 was the first time women were allowed to competitively box at the Olympics.
Shields’ fight began at home, not in the ring. She grew up in poverty. Her father was in prison for most of her childhood, and she had no bed and often no food at home. Shields has also spoken out about being sexually assaulted as a child by three men close to her family—none of whom was ever prosecuted, according to Shields in a 2015 interview with Yahoo Sports.
Shields also told Yahoo Sports that she later moved in with her grandmother with whom she was “super close.”
Shields was inspired to take up boxing at age 11, after learning about Muhammad Ali’s daughter, and finding a heroine in Laila Ali. Motivated by the anger she felt as a child and survivor of sexual assault, she told ESPN that she “channeled all the anger from that into boxing, and I think that's why I’m so successful at it.”
When Shields competed in the 2012 London Olympics, she was a junior in high school, taking on boxers nearly twice her age.
She beat them all.
Yet after the London Games, Shields struggled with demons from the past, and grew frustrated with her life back in Flint, hoping to move forward with a new dream. “I didn’t really see a future,” she told The Detroit News, “from the age of 13 till 17, my dream was to win the gold medal. I did that. And that was where my life stopped.”
But Shields returns to the Olympic ring in Rio stronger, faster, and taller than when she was a teenager—and more tenacious than ever.
She will be one of 19 Team USA athletes attempting to defend an individual gold, but may very well be the most determined out of all of them.
Shields beat Dariga Shakimova of Kazakstan in the semifinals on Friday, Aug. 19.
Next, she faces Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in the gold medal bout on Sunday at 1 pm ET.
The event will be live streaming from NBCOlympics.com.
How to Live Stream Claressa Shields’ 75kg Boxing Matches:
NBCUniversal’s networks and digital platforms will be showing nearly 7,000 hours of programing over 19 days during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will also live stream coverage of the Games for pay TV subscribers via TV Everywhere. You can download the NBC Sports app to your Android TV, Apple TV, Xbox or Roku or use the iOS, Android or Windows Phone apps.
You can also live stream Olympic matches from NBC here.