Boxer Claressa Shields pulls no punches in emotional acceptance speech at Women's Sports Foundation awards
Claressa Shields made an impassioned speech about female empowerment and self-love as she was honoured at the Women's Sports Foundation's annual awards.
Accepting the award for Individual Sportswoman of the year, the undisputed World Middleweight Champion said: "I have accomplished so much in my career. I know with all my accolades it sounds like I have done things that no woman has done and that's true."
The 24-year-old American said that being the only girl in the gym made her work harder but it also highlighted the differences between her and the media's idea of what a female athlete should be.
The boxer continued: "Growing up I was the only girl at my gym and all I heard was you have to be 10 times better than the boys to get any recognition.
"My competitor spirit made me speak so confidently about my skills and [even now] I train like a maniac sometimes.
"I started to realise I was different but I also started to love myself. I learned that.
"It's a certain kind of woman who they [the media] considered to be beautiful and to be a strong woman. Sometimes that made me sad because I wasn't that kind of woman. I was different, I was strong and really really confident and that made some people uncomfortable."
The athlete also commented on equality and how she wants to be able to speak about her successes without judgement.
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Shields added: "Yes I want equal pay and equal TV time but more than all of that I want the equality of freedom. I want to be able to speak confidently about my skills, express how much I love boxing and not be judged by it.
"God blessed me with a gift, he made me a great boxer but also gave me the ability to go through anything and hold my head high.
"To me, every year is the year of the woman."