Every time I see an amazing fighter in the ring, one of the first things I think of is who their coach is. So, when it comes to Claressa Shields and her bid for gold during the 2016 Rio Olympics, I’ve often wondered this: Who is the person who helped her train, and become the amazing, talented fighter she is? In other words: Who is Jason Crutchfield, Claressa Shield’s coach? Turns out, this man has been with her since the beginning, encouraging her fight and her amazing sense of self-confidence.
And when I say the beginning, I really mean it. According to the Wall Street Journal, Crutchfield first saw Shields fight when she was 11 years old. And even though he was reluctant to coach a female boxer, he gave in when he realized how quickly she was progressing. From there, their relationship grew as the rules for Olympic fighting changed. When it was announced that 2012 would the first summer Olympics to allow female boxing, Crutchfield predicted that Shields would be there, and that she would win the gold.
But the road to gold for Shields and Crutchfield would be a long one. As a full-time utility worker who lived with his girlfriend and their children, Crutchfield volunteered as a boxing coach in the evenings. But whenever Shields’ father was in prison and her mother was unable to support her, Shields would often find a place to stay on Crutchfield’s couch. Not only did he go above and beyond for Shields, he also did it entirely for free, taking her all the way to the London Olympics without ever being paid.
It’s amazing to me that a coach would give so much to one of his fighters, but I think it just shows the confidence Crutchfield has — and has always had — in Shields as a fighter from the very beginning.
Everyone needs someone to believe in them, no matter what they do, and it’s clear that Crutchfield has been and will always be that person for Shields.