USA Boxing’s 2016 Olympic medalists are the pride of their hometowns and two of them will receive honorary parades celebrating their Rio hardware over the weekend. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) enjoyed a huge welcome celebration upon touching down in Flint on Tuesday and events honoring the history maker have continued across the city. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) will be returning to his beloved hometown of Newark on Sunday in time for his parade in downtown Newark while bronze medalist Nico Hernandez (Wichita, Kansas) will continue his victory lap around the city with his parade on Saturday.
Stevenson won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympic Games, the highest finish for a male American boxer since 2004. He entered the 2016 Olympic Games with a perfect 23-0 international record and dazzled in his opening two bouts, winning two unanimous decision victories to advance on to the semifinal round. The 19-year-old Newark native faced returning Olympic gold medallist Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba in the bantamweight finale and the two talented boxers engaged in one of the closest bouts of the 2016 Olympic Games. Ramirez pulled out the decision by one round on one judges’ scorecard to give Stevenson, the youngest boxer in his weight division, the Olympic silver medal. Following the hard fought bout, Stevenson showed his class and grace in acknowledging his opponent. His silver medal is the first for the United States since 2000 and the first Olympic medal for an American bantamweight since Clarence Vinson in the same Sydney Olympic Games.
Stevenson’s parade will begin at Noon on Sunday at Military Park and conclude with a presentation of A Key to the City from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at 1 p.m. at City Hall.
The 19-year-old Olympic silver medalist is sponsored by Powerade, and is “Just a Kid” from Newark. The “Just a Kid” campaign reinforces a simple, but powerful truth: whether you’re one of the best professional athletes in the world or a teen grinding just to make varsity, we’re all Just a Kid from somewhere, full of big dreams and potential.
Hernandez set the tone for the U.S. Olympic boxing team in Brazil, reeling off three straight victories in his first Olympic Games. The light flyweight faced off with number two seed of Russia in his second bout but he wasn’t intimidated by his opponent’s resume or ranking. Hernandez defeated his Russian foe to advance on to the quarterfinal round with Ecuador. He kept the run going in his quarterfinal bout, clinching a spot on the medal stand with his third win of the tournament. The victory secured the first medal for an American male boxer since 2008 and the first piece of Olympic hardware for an American light flyweight since 1988. Hernandez’s improbable Olympic run ended in the semifinals in a highly competitive loss to eventual gold medalist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan.
As the first Olympic medalist from Wichita since 1984, celebrations for Hernandez have been ongoing since his arrival home. Hernandez graced the cover of the Wichita Eagle and was met with a crowd of adoring fans at the airport. He will have his own parade as well on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., beginning at Nomar Square and concluding at North High School.
Fans and supporters in Newark and Wichita are encouraged to attend the hometown parades and celebrate the accomplishments of the two young boxers.