Interview: Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields Talks ‘T-Rex’ Documentary, Fighting for Her Dreams & Her Hometown of Flint, MI
Every few days, I bargain with myself in an effort to get to the gym for some much needed exercise. As I pull on my gym shoes, I marinate over how I will reward myself for pushing through a three-mile run, or an Insanity class. I sweat solely for my health; I am no athlete. Still, my attitude towards fitness has vastly improved in the last decade. When I was seventeen, breaking a sweat ranked somewhere around leaving my relaxer in too long, or getting my cell phone taken away. It was literally one of the last things I wanted to do.
Unlike me, twenty-one-year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields lives to sweat. The World Champion Boxer took home the Gold Medal for the United States in the 2012 Olympic Games, the first year Women’s Boxing was considered for competition. As Shields gears up to head to the 2016 Olympic Games, her story (documented beautifully in the coming-of-age tale “T-Rex”) is headed to the big screen. The poignant and compelling documentary follows Shields, who hails from Flint, Michigan, as she quite literally fights her way to her dream. From family fallouts, to the coach that never thought he’d find a champion in a girl, Claressa Shields’ story is one for any athlete, and certainly for any Black woman.
I got the opportunity to chat with Claressa Shields about life since her historic win. We spoke about how she was continuously overlooked in the media back in 2012, the Flint Water Crisis, and what she wants people to learn from “T-Rex”. Aramide Tinubu: Hi Claressa! I first wanted to just say congratulations on your historic win, and congratulations on making the Olympic team again. Those are some tremendous accomplishments. You’ve accomplished so much not just for boxers but for women and especially Black women.
Claressa Shields: Thank you so much
AT: The first thing I wanted to chat with you about is what has changed for you since winning your gold medal back in 2012. Obviously you were 17-years-old then, just about to enter into your senior year of high school and now your 21. Has your life changed drastically?
CS: My life has definitely changed for the better. Probably for about a year and a half, I was at a standstill. I went to college for a little bit, but it was just too much time that I was taking away from my boxing career, so I had to stop going so I could just focus on boxing. After I turned 19, I started making a lot of decisions for myself. I was training, fighting in the top tournaments, and I have continued to win. Maybe about a year and a half ago, I moved to Colorado Springs. I’ve been down there training and in 2015 I won the World Championship. I also won the 2016 World Championship a few weeks ago.
AT: Oh that’s wonderful!
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Image: Claressa Shields