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Claressa Shields details the gender inequality in boxing and how it inspired her MMA switch

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Claressa Shields, the two-time Olympic gold medallist and former undisputed female middleweight champion of the world and the current WBC and WBO female light middleweight titleholder brings forth a requisite topic- the unequal treatment of female boxers.

Claressa Shields aka “T-Rex” (10-0, 2 Kos), who has held multiple belts across three weight classes and has been undefeated in her professional boxing career, recently made the switch to the mixed martial arts scene and penned a deal with Professional Fighters League (PFL) and is expected to make her MMA debut next year.

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Claressa Shields
From Olympic golds to being the undisputed middleweight champion, Claressa Shields has enjoyed a meticulously successful career in boxing. (Image Courtesy: SHOWTIME)AP/SHOWTIME)


Be that as it may, what powered Shields’ dream of making in big inside the octagon goes back to her days in the ring as since her pro boxing career debut back in 2016, the American pugilist noticed how the female boxers don’t receive the same opportunities as their male counterparts do.

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Unequal treatment of female boxers inspired Claressa Shields to switch to MMA

On 30th November, Claressa Shields signed a non-tourney lightweight multi-fight contract with PFA, taking the path of fellow Olympic gold medallist and former judoka Kayla Harrison who has tasted success in the octagon.

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Claressa Shields details the gender inequality in boxing and how it inspired her MMA switch - THE SPORTS ROOM
Claressa Shields hopes to make it big in the octagon as well. (Image Courtesy: USA TODAY)

In a recent interview with ESPN, Shields narrated the mistreatment she observed in women’s boxing and how female pugilists earn lesser, which is not the case in MMA where both the male and female champions can land equal in the millions.

“I’ve had fights in boxing that’s captured the sports world, just women’s boxing isn’t treated equally in boxing,” Shields said, “every MMA league they have women fighters’ main event. The PFL you get a chance to fight for a million dollars, just like they give men a chance to fight in the league for a million dollars.

“In boxing, there aren’t those kinds of opportunities for women. You have two or three of us getting paid good money and then the rest of them are kinda just like opponents.”

After a decorated boxing career as well as clinching gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Shields expects to create the same destiny in MMA as she has done in boxing.

“They don’t really have a large following and a big backing,” the 25-year-old went on, “in MMA, up in the PFL, it’s just, you create your own destiny, and that’s kinda what I wanna do. I’ve created my own destiny in boxing as far as becoming a two-time Olympic champ.

Shields was last seen donning the gloves back on 10th January this year when she defeated Croatia’s Ivana Habazin to win the vacant WBC and WBO light middleweight titles at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Now eyeing a decorated MMA career, Shields is expected to make her PFL debut in April 2021.

“From the junior Olympics to the world Olympics to world championships and now being a professional world champion. I just wanna test myself, really… I know that proper preparation prevents poor performance. I’m ready to just train and jump on in there,” Shields added.

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Saikat Banerjee
Saikat Banerjee
A wordsmith who indulges in the world of combat sports, Saikat is an MMA, boxing, and arm wrestling content writer at The MMA India Show and The Sports Room. Apart from combat sports, he also engages in Indian sports content at The Sports India Show. Currently pursuing an MBA from Jadavpur University, Saikat's other interests lie in motorcycling, working out, and travelling.


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