Claressa Shields, 16, Boxing To Be Someone

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For the past three months, Sue Jaye Johnson and Radio Diaries have been following a 16-year old boxer named Claressa Shields as she prepares to compete for one of three spots on the very first U.S. Olympic women's boxing team. Radio Diaries gave Claressa a tape recorder, and the story follows her from her Flint, MI, high school to the gym where she spars, only with boys, to the home of her father, a former boxer who spent most of Claressa’s childhood in prison. 

Photos by Sue Jaye Johnson. Click on an image to view the caption.

“I really wanted to take after my dad," Claressa says. "People still talk about how he could fight and his attitude. They used to call him Cannonball.”

In Flint, Claressa says, people already know who she is. “My nickname in Flint is Champ. Everybody calls me champ.”

The story concludes at the Olympic trials in mid-February where Claressa finds out – along with all of us – whether she’ll get a chance to be one of the first women to box in the Olympics.

Claressa's story aired on NPR's All Things Considered. Her story is also part of WNYC's Women Box podcast along with other features on women boxers and the Olympic Team Trials.