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Flint fans ectastic as boxer Claressa Shields wins 2nd gold medal in Rio

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Briana Shields (right) gestures at the TV screen as she watches her sister Claressa win her 2nd Olympic gold medal

Flint residents are celebrating local hero, boxer Claressa Shields, who won her second gold medal on the final day of the Rio Olympics.

A standing room-only crowd watched Shields’ fight at Flint’s Berston field house, where Shields learned to box.  A picture of Shields wearing her gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics hangs above the front door of the field house.  

All through the middleweight fight, the crowd cheered and Shield’s sister Briana shouted at her to “knock out” her opponent, Nouchka Fontjin of the Netherlands.

Claressa Shields did not knock out her Dutch opponent, but she did practically everything else, as she cruised to victory in Sunday’s gold medal bout.    

Briana Shields says her sister is an inspiration.

“That’s more than anything itself,” Briana Shields said after the fight. “That’s inspiring someone to do something better.  And she's doing it.  She’s making her mark.”

Claressa Shields is an inspiration to people in her hometown of Flint, which has struggled for many years, not just because of the lead tainted drinking water that forces city residents to rely on bottled water and/or special filters.  

“One of the things she has done is really put us on the map for something else,” says Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. “We keep saying there will be another story for Flint…it will be all of these good things we have going on in our city.”

Weaver says the now two-time Olympic gold medalist is a role model for “old and young alike.”

As the crowd at the Berston field house dispersed after the fight, some openly hoped that Claressa Shields would try to win another gold medal in four years at the next Olympics in Tokyo.

But the lure of a professional boxing career, and the money to be made there, may prove too strong.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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