First China’s Lu Bin, now Irish boxer Michael Conlan shows judges his contempt – with his middle fingers
Just days after Chinese boxer Lu Bin accused boxing judges at the Rio Olympics of being unfair and stealing his dreams, an outraged Irish world champion gave judges the middle fingers after an eye-dropping defeat to a Russian boxer.
Michael Conlan blasted the Olympic boxing body, the International Boxing Association (AIBA), of being “corrupt” in a expletive-laden rant at the judging after losing to Russia’s Vladmir Nikitin in the quarter-finals.
“AIBA are just corrupt. They’ve robbed me of my Olympic dream,” he said after losing on points in a unanimous decision that, to some observers, seemed at odds with what they had witnessed.
“Obviously, Russia can’t dope this time so they are obviously paying the judges a lot more.”
He vowed not to compete in any AIBA competition again, saying the association was “rotten to the core”.
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The boxer lost 28-29 on all three scorecards. The three judges – from Brazil, Sri Lanka and Poland – all gave Conlan the second round 10-9, 10-9, 10-9, but scored the first and last in favour of his rival.
“I was boxing the ears off him, I don’t know how it went against me,” said Conlan, who lingered in the ring after the fight, twirling his vest around his head to applause from the crowd.
The AIBA was plunged into controversy after Chinese boxer Lu’s surprise defeat just a few days ago. Lu cornered his opponent Mungai Warui from Kenya with a flurry of hard-hitting punches in that match.
Lu was so sure he would win he had his arm up before the judges lifted Warui’s arm, declaring that the Kenya boxer has won. A shocked Lu broke down in tears.
“The judges have stolen my dreams,” Lu wrote on his Chinese microblogging site Weibo.
“I have no regrets because I have pushed myself to the limit till the very last minute. All I could do was to show what I have at the Olympics. I could not change the judges’ decisions.”
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Popular actress Li Bing Bing showed her support to Lu on Weibo, writing that “justice is in everyone’s minds”.
An AIBA spokesman said Conlan was a champion who had high expectations and was understandably disappointed to have lost.
“Afterwards, it’s his personal judgement,” the spokesman said. “All I can say is that AIBA is striving for a fair, level playing field.”
“The idea is not to benefit one country towards another, we represent 200 national federations. These statements are groundless but he’s free to have his opinion.”
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Russian officials said the judging had to be respected and boxers should show dignity in defeat.
“The Russians are constantly being accused of something. Let’s deal with these things in a dignified way,” said Igor Kazikov, head of the Russian delegation at the Games.
“There were judges sitting there, professionals who take responsibility for these things. Why is there this mistrust all the time?”
“Dozens of Russian athletes, including virtually the entire track and field team, were suspended as part of sanctions against the country for a systematic state-backed doping programme that included the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
The scoring system has been changed for Rio from a computerised system to a professional-style, 10-point one.
US coach Billy Walsh, who is Irish, joined in the criticism after his light-welterweight Gary Russell missed out on a medal when a split decision went to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov.
“The judging has been atrocious,” he said. “The last time I saw it as bad was in Seoul in 1988 when Roy Jones got robbed in the final.”
Additional reporting Reuters