LONDON (CBSDetroit/AP) – U.S. middleweight Claressa Shields, of Flint, won the Olympic gold medal Thursday, capping her swift rise to the top of women’s boxing with a 19-12 victory over Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova.
The 17-year-old Shields shuffled, danced and slugged her way past her 33-year-old opponent, showing off the free-spirited style and brute strength that made her unbeatable in London.
Shields even stuck her tongue out at Torlopova after ducking a few punches.
Shields won the 12-member American team’s only gold medal in London. The most successful nation in Olympic boxing history got no medals from its men’s team for the first time, and flyweight Marlen Esparza won a bronze.
Shields has been on the international boxing scene for less than two years, but is among its fastest-rising stars. She lost early in the world championships, yet still qualified for the Olympics.
Shields took up boxing when she was eleven. Talking to CBS News, Shields said her father was in jail for most of her childhood. They finally met when she was nine.
“He said his dream was to be a boxer … So, when he said, you know, boxing was his passion I decided I would box,” Shields said.
Shields’ father, Clarence Shields, was among the about 200 people who attended the free viewing event at Blackstone’s downtown Flint.
He took to a knee to pray after watching his daughter receive her medal.
Said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, who organized the event, ”the atmosphere was electric” as people watched a young product of the struggling community’s schools and youth sports programs reach the peak of her craft.
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