Irish boxer Conlan blasts 'corrupt' judging after controversial loss
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - An Irish amateur world champion accused Olympic boxing of corruption on Tuesday, August 16 as the sport was embroiled in fresh controversy barely 12 hours after a Russian was booed to the Rio podium.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) vehemently rejected the claims after a seething Michael Conlan was turfed out of the competition in a surprise unanimous points decision to another Russian, the bantamweight Vladimir Nikitin.
Towering heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenko won a highly contentious gold on Monday in a judging decision that drew derision and jeers from the enraged 9,000-seat arena, even as the giant Russian collected his medal.
Conlan wagged his finger in the air as the judges condemned him to defeat and for a while refused to leave the ring, tearing off his top and flexing his muscles defiantly to a sympathetic crowd, which cheered him in return.
Conlan, 24, who had been heavily fancied for a medal in Rio, eventually clambered out of the ring and hurled abuse to at least one of the judges, branding one of them corrupt, while also having strong words with the referee and officials.
The irate Irishman struggled to contain his anger after the quarter-final, as a trail of blood trickled down his face.
"They've robbed me of my Olympic dream," he said, his face twitching with rage and his voice quivering, tears welling in his eyes.
"I said before that I was going to be Olympic champion. I was in first gear and I was boxing the ears off him. I don't know how it went against me.
"I watched Russia last night in the final and by all means Kazakhstan beat him and didn't get the decision.
"The judges are corrupt, it's as simple as that. I'll never box in an AIBA competition again... not even Olympic Games. Corruption runs deep."
"He was cut everywhere. Did you see his face? You saw by his reaction that he knew he didn't win," Conlan added of Nikitin, whose face was badly mangled and next faces a stern test in Thursday's semi-final against hot American prospect Shakur Stevenson.
The allegations were immediately rejected by amateur boxing's governing body.
"Michael is a current world champion and he came here with high expectations," said an AIBA spokesman.
"His disappointment is massive, we can all understand that. It's his personal judgment.
"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 statement are foundless, but he's free to have his opinion."
Conlan's defeat means there are no Irish boxers left in Rio, capping a desperately disappointing Games for the Irish team.
Veteran British boxing expert Steve Bunce, working for the BBC in Rio, said that under new rules aggrieved fighters cannot appeal.
"What happened to Conlan and Levit is heartbreaking and wrong," he said, referring to Vassiliy Levit, the Kazakh heavyweight who had to settle for silver on Monday after appearing to dominate the bout.
The decisions against the pair were "absolute stinkers", he said.
Olympic boxing has ditched the punch-counting method of scoring bouts that in the past threw up numerous controversies and replaced it with judges in a method that replicates professional boxing.
But that has not prevented several fighters and coaches in Rio levelling accusations at the AIBA and the judges.
On Monday, after watching lightweight Mikaela Mayer suffer defeat in front of a mostly anti-American crowd to another Russian, highly respected US coach Billy Walsh slammed the judging in the bout as "crazy".
And on just the second day of competition in Rio an American-born fighter for Honduras launched an angry tirade after he went down on a debatable unanimous points decision.
Teenager Teofimo Lopez accused the AIBA of "stealing my dream".
The AIBA similarly rejected accusations of corruption on that occasion. – Rappler.com