“Oh well, I’m just tired of losing.”
So much still a child, childlike, with this child’s quick, short attention span, an impulsiveness, and a love of portable electronics. Then she gets in the ring and the temperature of the room begins to rise. You cannot take your eyes off her.
Her father could have been a contender, but jail put an end to his career. When he made an offhand remark about admiring Laila Ali, his 11-year old daughter thought he was encouraging her to box. He wasn’t, but the misreading was typical with this child, whose innocent optimism may be her greatest weapon. Her father initially refusing to let her train in boxing, relented, thinking she would get beat up and surely, (hoping) she would just quit.
-As a competitor, she possesses a ferocious desire to establish dominance over her opponents.
-In the boxing ring there is a naturalness in the ring that only comes to those who took up boxing as children.
-Her balance and handspeed are superb.
Boxing has been an Olympic sport since the time of the ancient Greeks, and up until 2012 only men have taken part. For the first time ever, women stepped into the ring at the 2012 summer Olympics in London.
Claressa Shields, Crafter Artisan, (born in 1995 in Flint, Michigan), became the first American woman to win gold in boxing at the 2012 London Olympic games. Aggressive, intensely focused, Shields trounced her opponent in the middleweight division, defeating Nadezda Torlopova, (twice Shield’s age) the Russian boxer, by 19–12.
Shields was the youngest boxer at the Olympic trials, becoming the winning champion of the 165-pound weight class at 16yo, (Feb 2012), and went on to qualify for the Olympics in May, (turning 17 in March).
“I wrapped it around my hand when I went to sleep,” Shields says. “I had this fear that when I woke up the medal was going to be silver.”
Yet unlike fellow gold medalist Gabby Douglas, the teen gymnast who is expected to rake in $8-$12 million from sponsorships, Shields has received no national endorsement deals (though a local car lot gave her a custom black and gold Camaro).
“I think because women’s boxing is new, I guess,” she says. “I don’t really know.”
Claressa Shields is not only the first African-American woman to win gold in boxing, but the first woman, period. Like Douglas, she too has an equally compelling story about adversity and triumph, including being both black youth from rust-belt inner cities and survivors of sexual assault.
Claressa, born and raised in Flint, Michigan and was still a junior at high school back in May, 2012.
Her father, Bo, introduced her to boxing, (he had been in prison beginning when Claressa was two, released when she was nine). After his release, even though he talked to her about boxer Laila Ali, Bo did consider boxing a men’s sport and refused to allow Shields to pursue it until she was eleven. It was then Claressa began boxing at Berston Field House in Flint, meeting her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield. Shields credits her grandmother with encouraging her not to accept restrictions based on her gender.
“My Grammy always said that girls can do the same thing as men. She said that I couldn’t do just everything, but she said up in sports, I should be looked at as just equal, so I should always do my best.”
Claressa is a fighter.
Claressa is old school tough.
Tactical intelligence of Artisans can be defined as making smart moves that better one’s position, whether those moves are made by Operators expediting their enterprises, or by Entertainers improvising their presentations….indeed tactical intelligence is easily the most visible of the four kinds of intelligence. [Please Understand Me II]
In her first fight at the Olympics, her opponent’s strategy forced her to throw wider punches than normal. Shields says she knew she could land her hook, but in the first couple rounds she was missing by a few inches here and there, so she just kept throwing it. In the rest of her fights, she says she got back to what she does best.
“I was throwing wide punches [in that fight] but the next day, I was throwing sharp punches which is how I usually box,” she says. “I make them miss, and then I make them pay! That’s when you can see how much skill I have.”
Crafters prefer their actions to be spontaneous and unfettered; they want to follow their own lead, and to have their own impulses not subject to rules, regulations, or laws. Indeed, Crafters can be fiercely insubordinate, seeing hierarchy and authority as unnecessary and even irksome. It is not so much a matter of going against regulations as it is simply ignoring them, and not allowing them to influence execution. Crafters must be free to do their thing, varying each next move as the urge strikes them, and they are proud of their ability to make the next move skillfully. [Please Understand Me II ]
Claressa watches fight films of the greats and emulates them, considering herself a mash-up of Joe Louis and Ray Robinson. During one of her first matches in London, she heard someone compare her to Sylvester Stallone’s fictional movie character, Rocky Balboa.
This offends her.
“Someone called me Rocky Balboa!” she says. “In my first fight at the Olympics, I was throwing a lot of punches…I was like…that’s an insult! He’s not even a real boxer. I was like NO, I do not box like him!”
There just has not been a Claressa Shields before.
Shield’s is carving new territory in boxing. Yes, there has been women boxers before, but not to the extent of her independence, of her rise, a seventeen-year-old gold medalist who grows up immersed in the sport’s amateur ranks. A girl who watches black and white film of the best fighters ever and then puts what she sees to use. Never having someone like herself to look up to.
Claressa Shields is a pioneer of a sport that has been around for centuries.
“When you first win the gold medal, it’s so special,” she tells me. “It was my dream for so many years, and now I’ve accomplished my dream.”
“Then, for like a week or so, I was like ‘what’s next’?” she says. “You know, after having the same dream so many times and then one day you lay down and you have the same dream but you wake up and you’ve got the gold medal wrapped around you, you get to thinking…why I am still having that dream? I already made it a reality, you know?”
Crafters are impulsive, Crafters are fearless in their play, risking themselves again and again, despite frequent injury. Of all the types, these Artisans are most likely to pit themselves, or their technique, against chance or odds. Strangely, however, Crafters are not bored while doing their thing, even though there may be long stretches when nothing happens…..
In general these hard-bitten, soft-spoken Artisans communicate through action, and show little interest in developing verbal skills. Their lack of expressiveness makes them seem like loners at school and on the job… their conversation is sparse and terse.
Crafters are hard to get to know. On the one hand, they are egalitarian and can be fiercely loyal to their friends, teammates, and sidekicks. They will give their friends the shirt off their back, and will often give generously of their time and skills to help their friends… on the other hand, these Artisans are lone wolves who will not be tied to schedules and commitments… [Please Understand Me II]
“I’ll definitely continue boxing,” she says. “The Olympics were just the first step. I still feel like I need to get my recognition. You know? I felt like I would get more recognition because I’m seventeen and I won the gold medal, but I didn’t.”
“It just seems like a women’s gold medal isn’t as valuable as a man’s gold medal. I don’t know…”
(Final, Medal Awarded)
Her nickname is T Rex:
“….the moniker came from Darrion Lawson, a fellow boxer at the Berston Field House in downtown Flint. Lawson’s first attempt at a nickname, though, was vetoed by Shields.
He called her “Ressa Cup” — a play off of Reese’s peanut butter cups. She was 13 or 14 at the time, she said.
“I’m like, ‘No. That’s a stupid name,’” Shields said, “then he said ‘T-Rex,’ ‘cause he said I looked like a dinosaur.”
For now, Claressa is already back in the gym training, and already has fights lined up.. Claressa after all is a Contender, a Fighter, she says.
It’s what she does.
“So I’ve been thinking about the next Olympics,” she says.
“If I get two gold medals, there’s no way they cannot give [the recognition] to me then, right?”
Prove the critics wrong. Hey, dudes you made a mistake. Temperament trumps.