Gold Medalist Claressa Shields Weighing Her Options

Charles E. Sutton | 8/21/2012, 10:13 a.m.

Olympic boxing is one of the few sports that prohibit true professionals. USA Boxing provides amateur competitors a monthly stipend, which typically covers a portion of their training costs. Claressa Shields, a 17-year-old from Flint, Mich., who became the first American woman to capture a gold medal in Olympic boxing, receives a monthly stipend of $1,000 and will consider her financial opportunities as she determines whether to return for the 2016 Games in Rio, or fully commit to a professional career. She will weigh endorsement and various other types of income options prior to making any final decisions.

"If USA Boxing wants to keep her around, they want to help her out, give her a little bit more," said her coach Jason Crutchfield, with whom Shields resides for a significant portion of the year. "Give her a little more than $1,000 a month, then she'll stay in the ring. That's not enough. Her being a kid, she thinks $1,000 is enough to her. She don't pay no bills."

Boxing is looking to go in the direction of basketball, even though it's 20 years later. In the 2016 Games, the International Boxing Association plans to introduce professional fighters. The organization recently launched World Series of Boxing, a professional outlet designed to help grow the organization. To encourage participation, more than 50 fighters who participate could become eligible to compete in Rio.

Basketball is contemplating a move in the opposite direction. NBA Commissioner David Stern would like for the players on the 2016 Olympic basketball team to be 23 years of age or younger. He feels that it would make basketball's biannual world championships more meaningful, and it would better preserve older bodies for the long NBA season.

Larry Probst, chairman of the United States Olympic Committee, was asked about basketball's future at the Olympics.

"I personally would like to see the best players in the world," Probst said. "And if they happen to be 35 or 37 or 27 or 19, I'd like to see us field the very best team that we could put on the court."

Depending on the sport, there could be some eligibility requirement changes coming. Four years from now at the Olympic Games in Rio, the very best American team may or may not be present. But, the goal of bringing home the gold medal will remain the same.