The IX Special: Interview with Claressa Shields ahead of her Showtime Fight April 13, 2019
The fighter talks ahead of her big bout
|The IX||Apr 12, 2019|
Hi Women’s Sports Fans:
The IX Newsletter was able to connect with Claressa Shields ahead of her Showtime fight with Christina Hammer on Saturday, April 13 in Atlantic City. Shields is the only boxer in history to win two back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
Despite this fact, she is still considered somewhat of an underdog in professional women’s boxing. Shields is a perfect 8-0 as a professional boxer, but her German opponent Christina Hammer has three times as much professional experience and is also undefeated (24-0; 11 KOs).
However, as you will read in our extended interview with Shields, she’s not worried about any of that! She has learned how to roll with all of the punches life has thrown at her, a trait she attributes to being from Flint, Michigan.
Additionally, she feels destined to be the greatest female boxer ever, or more specifically, the GWOT: Greatest Woman of all Time. Part of being the GWOT includes the unprecedented coverage of her upcoming fight with Hammer.
Below are some links to get you caught up on both fighters and their date in the ring tomorrow.
CBS calls Saturday’s fight between Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer, “maybe the most anticipated fight in women's boxing history.” Check out predictions, the odds, and where to watch!
The winner Saturday will become only the sixth fighter to hold all four major belts in a weight class simultaneously.
Claressa, or T-Rex was the focus of a PBS Documentary ahead of her first Olympics at 17.
BoxingScene.com writes Shields is a fighter in the ring and for the women’s game. When Shields heard a WBC official thought women’s boxing should “protect” women boxers, she stated, “I’ve been grown for a very long time. I don’t need to be protected in boxing. If that’s the case, you also need to protect the men. They have more knockouts because of the three-minute rounds and 12 rounds.”
Christina Hammer has been dominant in the world of boxing. She also embraces her fashion interests and overall looks to promote herself and her sport.
Experience are on the side of Hammer, but Shields is the name most equate with women’s boxing. Part I of the Showtime ALL-ACCESS Special reveals some of the history of women’s boxing, as well as the tensions between Shields and Hammer leading up to Atlantic City.
A great read by The Undefeated about Shields and her hometown of Flint, MI, a city “on the ropes”.
Extended Five at The IX: Claressa Shields
We talk with the two-time Olympic gold medalist about her upcoming fight with Christina Hammer, the term “GWOT”, and where she gets her toughness (in the ring and in life) from.
Erica L. Ayala: You've talked a lot about how important this fight is particularly the lead up, though, and how this is changing the game for Women's boxing, can you elaborate on a little bit of what you mean by that the all access to equal promotion?
Claressa Shields: With this fight, between me and Christina Hammer, there's never been a woman to fight the main event on Saturday night on Showtime. We'll be the first and then we'll be the first to have an All Access show - two episodes. So, again, I believe that we’ll be the first to have the equal promotion to have the press conference … our all access [episodes have] over 200,000 - 300,000 views already.
ELA: It's been amazing to watch as someone who is not necessarily tapped into boxing, but I have been able to follow your journey, even outside of the boxing realm. And it seems as though from the beginning you've almost transcended the sport. And so, I want to ask you about GWOT, greatest woman of all time. How did that start in and why is that something that you carry with you?
CS: In 2016 I became the only American to have two Olympic gold medal, back-to-back, male or female I mean, out of all the boxers in America there's only one boxer and it has chosen for gold mouth and that's myself.
With that, you know, I turned pro. I had my pro debut and you know, I got more media attention than the people who were fighting the main event. And when you have that kind of attention, you’re like, ‘Okay you know maybe people are just excited because I just won the Olympics.’ But they were excited to see me fight. And you know, GWOT just comes from I know that can beat anybody they put in front of me.
ELA: As a part of this lead up, things about your style, in particular have come into criticism from your opponent, as far as you know, you're defenseless style, maybe being, you know, not as disciplined, particularly, what are your thoughts? What do you make of that?
CS: Yeah, she's silly. I have to say, you know, Christina Hammer doesn't want to give me too much credit. If she gives me too much credit, she won't fight. And that's where, you know, she's making a mistake. And she doesn't want to acknowledge how fast I am, how strong I am … I think I her not wanting to give me credit about how good I am, she’s doing herself a disservice if he really is.
ELA:You know, boxing has always been a sport where there is a lot of engagement and with your opponent prior to an event, and I don’t know that you really see that in too many other sports. How much of that is just hype? And how much of it do you think is more just for, for the promotion of the game?
CS: I try to do everything to get my opponent's head. You know, I'll say whatever to piss my opponent off. I don't really do it for the cameras …
ELA: Part of your story and your journey, which has been so amazing, has been that you have been able to transcend the sport. You have conversations about all kinds of things from your personal life, to your hometown and a lot of the things that that Flint, Michigan is going through. Does balancing all that ever weigh on you?
CS: Really, I do not change but a camera. And I have to keep saying that because it will drive me crazy if I spoke the way that people wanted me to speak or try to represent a woman that I that I'm not, you know. I'm not a soft spoken a woman. I'm not a woman who's afraid to say what's on her mind. I'm not a woman, afraid to show how strong I am.
I am from Flint, Michigan, you know, and I have a problem with saying it. I'm not embarrassed to say that. I love where I'm from … people in the city just do not have any quit in them, they don't have any give up, and that's what I represent. You know, when I got knocked down in Detroit in the first round, everybody in the building who knew me, who knew how I grew up knew I would get back up. I've been knocked down in life before. So being knocked down in the ring is not that big of a deal, you just get back up and you keep pushing. And that's what I did. And I was able to come back and win that fight.
Matter of fact, I won every round after the knock down. So that’s what Flint represents to me and that's what I represent to them. Like, even though we're going to all this stuff, and you know, we're treated like a third world country. We're in the United States of America and we don't have clean water. We’re in the United States of America and we don't have enough police officers to be able to be on call when there's an emergency. We're in a city where you know, we have a high murder rate and they still can't figure out where to hell all these guns are coming from ... people can just do whatever they want to do and get away with. And that's like living in a war zone. And people don't fear in consequences and that's where I'm from. And you know, even though everybody makes a big deal about the water crisis, they should make a big deal about our young black women and men being killed in a city over 60-70 murders a year. It's crazy.
ELA: When you have opportunities to talk to people who do see you as a motivation in their life, what are some of the things that you try to leave people with?
CS: Don't be afraid to be different. You know, because growing up in boxing, at the age of 13, nobody in my family wanted me to box … nobody understood it. And women's boxing wasn't really known. There was a guy who told me at the age of 13, he said, I'll be brain dead by the time I was 17, I wouldn't be able to talk and this crazy stuff. And, you know, you have to be willing and able to block all that stuff out.
I just tell them, you know, if you if you feel your heart, do it. I always tell people, like, God gave you this for a reason. And when God you the bigger picture and you tell the bigger picture somebody else, they'll be looking at you like you're crazy.
God gives that feeling to everybody about something. And that's what you should go for, despite what everybody else is telling you. People ask me about how do I stay motivated, I stay motivated by looking at the bigger picture. You know, some things may not be born at the moment. But you can't let one small thing ruin the whole picture.