Boxer Claressa Shields gets golden welcome

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Hundreds of family, friends and fans received help from a pep band to welcome 17-year-old Olympic gold medal boxer Claressa Shields back home to Flint on Monday evening.

Shields beat Nadezda Torlopova of Russia 19-12 on Thursday as she battered her way to the middleweight title in the first Olympics featuring women’s boxing.

Shields seemed a bit overwhelmed by the size of the crowd greeting her at Flint’s Bishop International Airport.

“This is amazing to see, just these people coming together to support me,” she told WNEM-TV as she looked out over the crowd. “I expected to see maybe about a hundred people. I didn’t expect to see everybody.”

The plane carrying Shields landed about 5:30 p.m. Monday, ahead of her expected arrival time thanks to airlines that held a connecting flight so she could make it.

A large sign at the terminal read: “Welcome Home Claressa! Thank you for bringing the GOLD home to Flint!”

“It feels good to finally be home. I’ve been away from home for about two months,” she said. “It feels good to be around people I know. I’ve really been missing my family.”

A celebration followed at Berston Field House.

“I’ve been having this dream since I was 13-14, and now that it’s accomplished, I can finally believe it,” Shields said.

Shields was the only U.S. fighter to win a gold at the London Olympics. She said she and her coach will get together to discuss her future.

“If she got the gold, I knew it was going to turn out like this and really I thought it would be even more,” her trainer, Jason Crutchfield, told

For now, the first thing on the agenda is celebrating her win and her homecoming.

Overcoming her initial shock, Shields pushed into the crowd, signing autographs and dancing to the beat of the drums.