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Claressa Shields Opens up to Mike Tyson About Her Dad’s Imprisonment

Published 10/07/2021, 3:30 PM EDT

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Regardless of recent updates in ESPN and the Ring Magazine’s rankings, Claressa Shields is indubitably the pound-for-pound queen of boxing.

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The 26-year-old found her start in the sport at the young age of 11. Ever since then, she has had an extensive amateur career of 65 fights with just 1 loss. During this time, she even competed and won two back-to-back gold medals  at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. As a pro-boxer, she has competed 11 times since 2016 and remains undefeated.

‘T-Rex’ is now the face of women’s boxing and in just 11 pro-fights, she has become a three-division unified world champion.


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Shields recently appeared on Mike Tyson‘s ‘Hotboxin’ podcast. Tyson asked her about what drove her to lace up the gloves initially; Claressa Shields opened up to Mike Tyson about her past and what drove her towards the squared circle.

The Flint, Michigan native revealed her dad had always wanted to pursue a career in boxing; however, he found himself caught up and spent a couple of years in prison. So, a 11-year-old Claressa decided to step up and train to help her dad live his dream through her.

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I really started boxing to take after my dad. My dad had been in prison for a couple of years, he got out when I was 9 years old.

He was just telling me, he would’ve stuck to what he was passionate about, he would’ve never went to prison. And, I was like well, what were you passionate about? He said boxing. 

“So I really took up boxing so my dad could live some of his life through me,” said Claressa Shields.

Mike Tyson and Claressa Shields on the role of ego in boxing

On the Hotboxin’ podcast with Claressa Shields, Mike Tyson asked her about who inspired her to chase greatness in the sport. Shields said that she looked up to Muhammad Ali and wanted to become someone like him in and out of the ring.

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You know what, it was Muhammad Ali. That’s the fighter who I saw and said ‘I wanna be like him’, not just him inside the ring but him all around. I wanted to be as confident as him,” said Claressa Shields.

To this point, Tyson pointed out that Ali used a lot of psychological tricks in the later part of his career. He said “disgusting” things about his opponents when stuck in clinches.

Shields suggested that the ‘alter ego’ of a boxer is a real thing. She said that boxers are often are not the same in and out of the ring.

Boxing has a lot to do with alter egos because we are not who we are inside the ring and outside the ring,” said Shields.


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Mike Tyson then spoke about the role of ego in a boxer’s journey towards the championship. The 55-year old took a page out of his book of the craziest experiences and shared that ego is nothing more than an illusion.

Tyson believes it definitely helps one achieve wonders in the sport; however, he then questioned what happens when you lose all control over it?


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Our ego gives us everything but takes too much in return,” said Mike Tyson.



Sanjit Misra

503 articles

Sanjit Misra is a boxing author at EssentiallySports. Sanjit fused his passion for writing with his love for jabs, hooks, and uppercuts and entered the realm of boxing journalism. The elegance, the sweet science, and the finesse of hand-to-hand combat was what initially drew him into the world of boxing.