Two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields returned home to Flint this afternoon to a hero’s welcome.
“When I say two-time, you all say champ!” Shields yelled, leading her own cheers at Flint’s Bishop Airport, and the crowd willingly followed her lead.
Claressa Shields is an inspirational figure in Flint, a city that has fought many rounds itself, and has struggled to keep standing.
The 21-year-old fighter understands the place she occupies in her hometown.
Shields told the crowd at the airport that they were on her mind as she fought in Rio.
“Every round, even as I felt myself getting tired … I was like, ‘You’re not going to hit me. I’m not going to let you hit me while my people are watching.’ We’ve been hit enough,” Shields said, before adding people in Flint need to fight together to overcome the city’s drinking water crisis.
The Flint native returns home with important decisions to make. Besides possible endorsement deals, Shields said she’s been approached by promoters hoping she’ll turn pro. But she admits the lure of a pro career doesn't mean the same to her as it does her male counterparts.
“You know professional women’s boxing is ... nowhere near the same attention level as the Olympics are,” Shields said when asked about turning pro. “I get way more attention than any female boxer who’s a professional right now with me being an amateur.”
Shields would like the Olympics to allow professional boxers to fight for medals in Tokyo in 2020, where she could fight for a possible third gold medal in the women’s middleweight division.