Independent Lens: T. Rex - Her Fight for Gold

About This Episode


Flint, a city made famous by Michael Moore's Roger & Me, and more recently by the lead poisoning water crisis, has been hard-hit for years as crime, unemployment and poverty became endemic. It's the most unlikely and challenging of backgrounds for an Olympic athlete to make it through. But Claressa “T-Rex” Shields is as tough as they come.

In 2012, Shields was 13 years old when it was announced that women would for the very first time compete in boxing at the Olympics. Although she’d only been boxing for two years, her coach, Jason Crutchfield, predicted she'd be there — and that she'd win gold. It seemed an audacious dream for Shields, whose prior aspirations included having ten kids by the time she was 26, and who grew up bouncing between homes while her father was in prison and her mother struggled with addiction. To accomplish her dream, she would need a stable life; Jason and his family took her in, housed her and kept her focused.

T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold traces Claressa's rise as an Olympic athlete from the streets of Flint to the podium in London, and the subsequent challenges and disappointments as she watches fellow athletes receive recognition and endorsements while none come forward to support her, raising questions about race, class and gender bias. Agents suggest she should soften her image, but she is her own person, ready to push the boundaries while fighting for another gold and a better life. Now with a record of 69-1, Claressa is ranked number one in the world heading into her second Olympic competition, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Games.