Claressa Shields among 4 U.S. boxers to qualify for Olympics

Claressa Shields
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Claressa Shields, the U.S.’ first Olympic women’s boxing champion, qualified to return to the Games in Rio in August.

Shields, who turned 21 on Thursday and has one loss in more than 60 career fights, and three U.S. men’s boxers earned Olympic berths at the AIBA American Olympic Qualification Tournament in Buenos Aires.

“The first go around I was the underdog, this go around I was the top dog,” Shields said in a press release. “I like them both. I think people think that when you’ve been on top so long, you stop training as hard and that you get big-headed. I’m not one of those people, but it plays to my favor when a girl is working hard and she thinks that I’m not working hard.”

Youth Olympic champion Shakur StevensonNico Hernandez and Charles Conwell also clinched Olympic spots. All four boxers prevailed at the Olympic trials last year but needed to advance far enough in Buenos Aires to earn the U.S. spots in the Olympics.

They join Carlos Balderas, who became the first U.S. boxer to qualify for Rio via his finish in the World Series of Boxing last season.

U.S. men’s boxers were shut out of the medals at London 2012 for the first time at an Olympics (excluding the boycotted Moscow 1980 Games). Boxing debuted at the St. Louis 1904 Olympics.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic roster is now at more than 50 athletes across all sports.