Claressa Shields, Boxing — USA
Claressa Shields continues to make history in 2019. At arguably the biggest women’s boxing bout of all time, the 24-year-old American emerged as the first undisputed women’s middleweight boxing world champion in the sport’s history, beating Germany’s Christina Hammer in Atlantic City, N.J., on April 13, 2019. Following her victory, she became one of the only seven boxers to simultaneously hold all four major world titles in boxing (IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC) in addition to claiming the inaugural Ring Magazine female middleweight title.
Shields’ professional career record is nine wins and no losses with two victories by knockout. In the last 12 months she not only notched three wins and remained undefeated, but also became world champion in her second weight division. She kept a remarkable professional winning streak as she entered 2019 after being named to the USA Boxing Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame in August 2018 and the Boxing Writers Association of America Female Fighter of the Year in December 2018.
These historic accomplishments have earned her the 2019 Sportswoman of the Year, becoming the first two-time recipient of the award since 1995. Shields was previously honored in 2016.
Shields became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing at the 2012 Olympic Games, where for the first time the 10 men’s boxing events were joined by three women’s events: flyweight, lightweight and middleweight. Four years later, Shields won a second gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. She is the only American — male or female — to win back-to-back gold medals in boxing. Shields is also a two-time World Championship gold medalist and a Pan American gold medalist.
Shields points out that she has had strong influences who helped guide her along the way, and she has never let circumstances dictate her actions. The first member of her family to graduate from high school, her story of overcoming adversity to become the greatest female boxer in the world fuels her advocacy work in her hometown of Flint, Mich., and her passion to inspire more girls to participate in sports.