Claressa Shields, 17, Becomes First American Woman to Take Home Boxing Gold

Claressa Shields celebrates after defeating Anna Laurell of Sweden in the Women's Middle (75kg) Boxing Quarterfinals at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 6, 2012. Scott Heavey/Getty

Claressa Shields is a lean, mean, history-making machine.

The 2012 London Olympics mark the first Games during which women's boxing was included as an event — and on Thursday, 17-year-old Shields became the first American woman to take home gold, as well as the second-youngest fighter ever to snag top Olympic honors in either men's or women's boxing.

The Flint, Mich.-born middleweight took on Nadezda Torlopova of Russia, and defeated her after four rounds, with a final score of 19-12. (Earlier Thursday, her teammate Marlen Esparza won the Bronze after a loss to China's Cancan Ren during the flyweight semifinals.)

Though her father, a former fighter himself, initially discouraged his daughter from giving boxing a shot (telling her it was a "man's sport"), Shields managed to convince him to let her begin training at age 11.

"It's always dedicated to Flint, 'cause that's where I'm from," Shields told the Detroit Free Press of wanting to honor her downtrodden native city with the history-making win. And also, "I dedicate it to my coach [Jason Crutchfield, her mentor since age 11]. I feel like he deserves it: He's trained a lot of men at our gym, but none that wanted to dedicate themselves."

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