It was a tall order for the then-17-year-old, but just as she was in the challenges before, Shields was tenacious in her quest for victory. The first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing is a title anyone would be proud of, but the lack of attention — as well as endorsements — she received upon her return was disheartening. Unbowed, Shields remained hungry. With her insatiable appetite and support from friends and family, the 21-year-old will return to the ring at the 2016 Rio Olympics hoping to become the first female boxer to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. From 2012 to 2016, photographer and filmmaker Zackary Canepari documented Shields’ Olympic journey. Here is how her story unfolded. — Maya A. Jones
“Jason was my former coach, from the age 11 until I was 19. He was like a second father to me. He and his wife-girlfriend, Mama Mickey, took me in when I was about 17, but I kind of had been staying at Jason’s every summer till I was about 15.” – CLARESSA SHIELDS
Born on March 17, 1995, Claressa Shields grew up in Flint, Michigan, and began boxing when she was only 11 years old. By 2012, at age 17, she was 26–0, but a loss at the Women’s World Championships in Qinhuangdao, China, nearly derailed her Olympic dreams. Less than a week after her first loss, however, Shields’s years of hard work paid off when she was named to the American Olympic Team. At the Summer Olympic Games, Shields won an Olympic middleweight gold medal in a 19-12 victory over Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova.
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