Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

Claressa “Teen Contender” Among the First Women to Box in the Olympics

This past week, women boxers from 77 countries converged in China for the World Boxing Championships. It was also the final hurdle to qualify for the 2012 Olympics Games. And it was dramatic. Claressa Shields lost for the first time in her short career, but still managed to squeak into the Olympics. The 17-year-old boxing phenomenon was the subject of our “Teen Contender” documentary that aired last February.

At the time of the broadcast, Claressa was 19-0. She had never lost a fight. That changed in China when Great Britain’s Savannah Marshall outscored her 14-8.  “Your character is determined more by a loss than a victory,” her coach Jason Crutchfield told her on the phone that night.

Claressa’s loss meant that her Olympic dreams would be determined by the performance of her opponent. Three days later, Savannah Marshall won the tournament, bringing Claressa onto the Olympic roster.

She will be among the first women ever to box in the Olympic Games in London in August 2012.

Sue Johnson, and Marianne McCune of WNYC are continuing to follow Claressa’s story, along with the stories of many of the women boxers who are making history. Their one-hour documentary, a PRX special, will air in early July on stations across the country.

Follow their project at WomenBox

Claressa Shields

Photo Credit: Sue Jaye Johnson/WomenBox

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