If Claressa Shields were a man…

Word count: 224 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. Here is a sentence about boxer Claressa Shields that I’d happily imitate.  

I have almost no interest in sport unless you include hiking and canoeing (which probably aren’t actually sports the way I do them.) But I have a passionate interest in the New Yorker and when the magazine prints a story on, say, a 16-year-old boxing phemon named Claressa Shields, well, I’ll read it.

This article, written by Ariel Levy and published in the May 7, 2012 issue, initially drew my attention because of the phenomenal photograph by Pari Dukovic, shown above. But it was the writing that sustained my interest. Here is my favourite sentence from the piece:

“If  Claressa Shields were a man, and fifty-two and missing several front teeth, she’d be her father, Clarence: they look astonishingly alike.”

I love the ludicrous nature of this sentence. She’s 16, not 52; she’s a woman, not a man; she’s attractive and not missing any teeth. But in her steely jaw and her hyper-intense concentration you can sense the sinew and determination of an older man. I also enjoy the symmetry of the names, Claressa and Clarence. And I like the way the writer has used a colon correctly.

This is a really well written piece even if, like me, you’re not normally the least bit interested in boxing.

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