(MAR 12) (COLORADO SPRINGS,
COLO.) - Seventeen-year-old Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.)
claimed her first piece of history this summer, winning the
first middleweight gold medal in women's boxing, and she is
hoping to add another item to the record books by becoming the
first boxer ever to win the AAU's James E. Sullivan award.
Shields was recently named a semifinalist for the prestigious
award, which honors the nation's top amateur athlete. The award
selection includes a public voting component and boxing fans can
support Shields by voting for her via this link.
Evander Holyfield, Shields and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Mark
"It feels great to be a
semifinalist for the Sullivan award. I worked really hard
leading up to my Olympic gold medal so being a semifinalist for
this award is an honor, and to be the first boxer to win it
would be amazing, you can only be the first once," Shields said.
A senior at Flint's Northwestern High School, Shields is one of
15 semifinalists for the award. Public voting will run through
Sunday, March 17, which is also Shields' 18th birthday. The
first female boxer from the United States to win Olympic gold,
Shields opened 2012 with a run through the inaugural U.S.
Olympic Team Trials for Women's Boxing. At only 16, Shields
defeated her four opponents by a 108-64 margin to claim the
middleweight spot. The teenager took her run to the
international level over the next six months, winning the
Continental Championships and qualifying internationally for
London at the 2012 Women's World Championships.
With three victories over much older and experienced opponents
in London, Shields became the first female middleweight Olympic
champion in history, winning the first boxing gold medal for the
United States since Andre Ward in 2004. Shields run from the
Olympic Trials in February through the Olympics in August
included victories over four reigning or former World Champions.
Shields returned to Northwestern High School following her
eventful summer, and remains focused on graduating high school
and continuing her studies along with her training commitments.
She is the first Olympic gold medalist ever to return to amateur
boxing and has plans to defend her Olympic crown at the 2016
Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
A proud Flint native, Shields has provided a much need positive
role model to the youth in her own community as well as
inspiration to those across the nation chasing their own dreams.
Having overcome great personal obstacles in her own life,
Shields proved that no challenge is impossible and dreams are
attainable with hard work and belief in yourself.
The 17-year-old Shields was ringside for Bernard Hopkins'
historic performance on Saturday at the Barclays Center and had
the chance to see the last boxer to be named a Sullivan award
semifinalist, 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward. Ward was
among the top amateur athletes honored in 2005 following his
light heavyweight gold medal. While in New York, Shields joined
two boxing greats from the 1984 Olympic team, Evander Holyfield
(bronze medalist) and Mark Breland (gold medalist) at a private
USA Boxing event.
Known as the "Oscar" of the sports world. Older than the
Heisman, the AAU James E. Sullivan Award has been presented
annually by the AAU since 1930. Based on the qualities of
leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of
amateurism, the AAU Sullivan Award goes far beyond athletic
accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral
Online voting for the 83rd Sullivan award will continue through
March 17 at http://sullivan.rightbrainmedia.com/, and the AAU
will announce the finalists on March 25.