(COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.) – 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) added another major award to her ever-growing list of accolades over the weekend. The first American woman to win Olympic boxing gold received the Youth Female Boxer of the Year award from the international federation for Olympic-style boxing at a special ceremony in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Shields was one of five athletes honored at the event, which was held in conjunction with the Elite Men’s World Championships. Team USA’s Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) was recognized for his outstanding year at the award ceremony as well, taking the Junior Male boxer of the year title.
Due to changes to the age divisions, the 18-year-old Olympic champion was forced to box in the youth division in 2013. The new college freshman didn’t allow the new age group to stop halt her success, taking the USA Boxing National Championships youth division middleweight crown in April. Shortly after starting her freshman year at Olivet College in Olivet, Mich., Shields competed in the first-ever Women’s Junior/Youth World Championships in Albena, Bulgaria. She dominated the competition, winning early stoppages in her first three bouts of the World Championship tournament. She won gold with a victory over Elzibieta Wojckik of Poland in the championship bout to take the Women’s Youth Championship title.
“The exciting thing about Claressa is that she represents the future of boxing. She arrived on the international scene just in time to go to the Olympics and now she is already focusing on going for that second gold medal,” said 2012 Olympic Coach and AIBA Women’s Commission member Christy Halbert.
Shields took a short break from her studies to travel to Almaty for the award ceremony where she received a commemorative trophy from AIBA President Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu. Shields thanked all of her international supporters at the special event in Kazakhstan. “My dream has always been to be the best boxer in the world. To receive this award from AIBA means a lot to me and it shows that I am getting there. I would like to thank my coach, AIBA and all the referees and judges, who have always been very fair to me. Thank you very much,” she said.
Despite her tremendous success to this point, Shields has many goals left to accomplish in the boxing ring. She will enter the elite division in 2014 and could have the opportunity to win her first Elite Women’s World Championship next year. In addition, the historic gold medalist has her eyes set on Rio de Janeiro in 2016 where she plans to win a second Olympic championship.
In addition to the two major athlete awards, long-time USA Boxing and AIBA official Ray Silvas (Sugar Land, Texas) received the World Series of Boxing Supervisor of the Year award from AIBA. Silvas was chosen from a group of highly respected supervisors that managed WSB matches last season. “It comes as a surprise. It is a real honor to be selected from such a distinguished group of people and I’m humbled and I accept this award on behalf of my colleagues. Thank you very much,” Silvas said.
Silvas and Shields joined their fellow honorees at the award ceremony in Almaty on Saturday upon the conclusion of the Elite Men’s World Championships. Stevenson was unable to attend the event, but was greatly honored by the major award.
USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).