What Gold Medalist Claressa Shields Can Teach Us About Pursuing Our Dreams

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Gold medalist Claressa ShieldsWhile visiting my dad near Buffalo, New York recently I flipped through late night TV and came across a PBS documentary called T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold, about a 17-year old girl from Flint, Michigan who became the first ever Olympic gold-medal winner in women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics—the first time boxing was recognized as an Olympic sport for women.

I’m sharing her story here because I see many parallels between her story and the story of so many heart-centered entrepreneurs, “lightworkers,” and those who expected great things to happen once 2012 came and went. This message is especially important to hear right now, when many on this planet are struggling with their relationships, health, finances, environment, and more, while hoping to make a difference in a world that seems to be on the brink of disaster.

Claressa’s Inspiring Story

Claressa Shields grew up in Flint, Michigan, a city with one the highest unemployment, poverty and violence rates in the U.S. (You’ve probably heard of Flint because of its municipal water problems.) Claressa’s mother struggled with addiction and could not adequately take care of her children. Her father was an underground boxer who spent time in prison. Hers was a life of poverty and abuse, rife with challenges, and her future didn’t look bright, either.

Claressa’s dad was released from prison when she was 11 and took her to a boxing gym. She begged her dad to let her box. He finally agreed and for the next several years, she worked harder than any of the boxing students at the gym, harder than any of the boys. Her coach recognized she had the spirit of a champion and mentored her.

Early in 2012, when she was only 16 years old, this unknown, honor-roll high school student with a dream competed at the Olympic Trials in Washington and won. A few months later, she won the Gold medal for women’s Olympic boxing.

But after winning the 2012 Olympic Gold in London, not much changed for this high school student from Flint. The endorsements and sponsorships she expected (and that she counted on to help improve the life of her mother and younger siblings) didn’t come like they did for gold medalists in swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball.

Well, of course. Cereal companies and other advertisers don’t know what to do about women boxing in the ring, especially one so enthusiastic about the sport. It’s a bit of a stretch for the mainstream, a risk. And it takes time for perceptions to change.

So after taking a few days off after the 2012 Olympics, she went back to the gym and has been working hard to prove everyone wrong. Her plan is to be unstoppable, because that’s what she feels will make people respect and pay attention to women’s boxing, and her.

“I’m fighting for more than just a medal. I’m fighting for my family, I’m fighting for my future, I’m fighting for my city — to give them some hope and faith, because it’s so bad in Flint. I always fight harder than I would if I were fighting for just a medal,” Claressa said.

Your dream might not be to be an Olympic athlete like Claressa, but you have a purpose and a gift. Whether it’s to write a book, take back your online pharmacy no prescription health, or teach others you must keep going. You must strive to attain your highest level of excellence with your dream and purpose. It might take time to reap the awards, just as it’s taken some time for Claressa to be recognized and get the endorsements she deserves.

Last year, she moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs (where her room and board is covered), she received a college scholarship, and watching the Olympics this last week, I’ve seen her receive modest parts in TV commercials for Dick’s Sporting Goods and the MINI Cooper auto company.

Which to me shows that things are slowly changing on this planet. We are making a difference. Humanity is transforming. (Just as I had explained in my ebook, Activating 2012: A Practical Guide for Navigating 2012 with Confidence and Clarity, an ebook that’s just as relevant today as it was in 2012.)

“My name is Claressa Shields,” she says into a recorder she carries around with her. “I always knew I was going to be something. I just didn’t know what.” (I know that you know that you were going to be something, too. You just didn’t know what.)

So are you going to cherish the rest of your precious life and make every day count? Will you work daily towards your dream, share your gift and fulfill your higher purpose? Whatever you do, make sure to watch the compelling documentary, T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold. It will lift you up and motivate you to go forward with your dreams.

And make sure to watch Claressa when she fights to defend her title in Rio on August 17 (quarterfinals begin 10:30 am PT). You might not be a fan of boxing, and you might even be against boxing, but this is one opportunity for you to open your mind and cheer for Claressa Shields and all that she’s accomplished with her one challenging life.

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  1. Ty said:

    I really needed to hear this. This is very inspiring as well as encouraging. I’ve been waiting to see my dreams manifest for many years now. After reading the article, I am super excited not only for my dreams but for Ms. Shields. Thanks for sharing positive news.

    August 17, 2016
    • Thanks for your comment Ty! Make sure to watch the PBS documentary on TV. I heard it is free on public television this month. Claressa is a good example of making lemonade out of the lemons life gives you and she speaks of her connection with God, too.

      August 17, 2016
  2. Thanks, Christine ! This girl’s story truly gives new meaning to the word ‘inspirational. ‘

    August 17, 2016
    • Christine Hoeflich said:

      Make sure to watch the documentary T-Rex as it’s very inspiring. (I’ve only seen the last half of the movie but want to see the whole thing.) I heard it is on PBS TV the month of August and you can see it for free then. Just check your local channels to see when it’s playing.

      August 17, 2016
  3. Lee Nourse said:

    Christine, I appreciate your choice to present this inspirational story to your readers. I love hearing background stories about Olympic athletes, generally, but Claressa’s story is an exceptional one. I’ll be sure and find T-Rex, either on PBS or YouTube. Thanks again for a great article! (it’s too good not to share)

    August 17, 2016
    • Thanks Lee! I only saw T-Rex from about half-way in, but it drew me in immediately. I want to watch the entire movie now. It’s extremely interesting. Thanks for commenting and for sharing!

      What’s interesting is that boxing is traditionally a sport of the poor and the underclass. Pain and suffering are involved. And Claressa was able to transform this pain and suffering into something that lifted her, her family, and city, up.

      Thanks for reading!


      August 18, 2016
  4. Joan said:

    Wow. She makes no excuses. Just does what needs to be done. So motivating!

    Thanks for sharing her story.

    August 18, 2016
    • Christine Hoeflich said:

      That’s why I’m sharing her story here. Because if she can rise up from extreme poverty imagine what we who are middle class can do. Thanks for commenting, and make sure to watch the documentary! Christine

      August 18, 2016

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