Olympic boxer Claressa Shields proves greatness knows no gender
Claressa Shields, 21, made history Sunday when she became the first athlete from the United States to win two Olympic gold medals in boxing — a feat no American man or woman has achieved in the 112 years since the sport was introduced to Olympic competition.
In an ecstatic on-camera interview after her medal-winning performance, Shields made it clear where she stands on the echelons of boxing greatness.
"I want to let it be known that I'm not just a great female boxer," she said, "but I'm one of the great boxers to ever live."
"I want to let it be known that I'm not just a great female boxer, but I'm one of the great boxers to ever live." — Claressa Shields, after winning her second consecutive Olympic gold medal
Shields won her first gold medal in 2012 in London. She competed in Rio de Janeiro this year in the women's middleweight category, and won her second gold by defeating Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands 3-0 in the final match over the weekend.
The Flint, Michigan, native's self-assured comments echoed similar statements made by gymnast Simone Biles 10 days earlier.
"I'm not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps," Biles reportedly said after winning gold in the women's individual all-around competition. "I'm the first Simone Biles."
Both women helped cap off a remarkable showing for black American women athletes at this year's Rio Games. From Shields and Biles to Simone Manuel, Michelle Carter, Ashleigh Johnson and many more, black women from the U.S. made history and took home gold in a stunning array of Olympic sports.
Shields remains uncertain about what's next for her career after winning gold in Rio, but for now, she seems happy to bask in her hard-earned victory.
"I don't know. I don't know what's next. I don't know," she said, smiling. "Oh, thank you, Jesus!"