A referee has been placed on an indefinite suspension after he insisted that a black wrestler cut off his dreadlocks before a match.
Footage of the 16-year-old Buena Regional High School varsity wrestler having his dreadlocks cut off went viral last month after it was shared online. Many internet users were outraged by what seemed like racial bias on the part of the referee.
Andrew Johnson was asked to cut his hair after the referee, Alan Maloney, told him that his hairstyle was against the league regulations. According to Sportsrec, the rules state that wrestlers must have short hair that does not hang below a standard collar in the back.
The boy's family, who spoke to WNEP through their attorney Dominic A. Speziali, said that Andrew told the referee that he could push the hair back but Maloney refused and claimed that the teen's hair was not in its natural state. Thus Maloney forced Andrew to either cut his locks or forfeit the match. Andrew chose the former and ended up winning the match.
According to a notice posted on the Buena School District website, the school board decided that they would no longer compete in any contest officiated by the referee or collaborate with him.
“He’s done working with our district” Buena Regional School District Superintendent David Cappuccio on referee at center of controversy. District telling NJSIAA they don’t want him assigned to wrestling matches @6abc https://t.co/GFxvskaXY9— Annie McCormick (@6abcAnnie) December 27, 2018
The district's superintendent, David Cappuccio, confirmed in that statement that the school does not have the power to fire Maloney because he was not employed by the Buena schools. But the groups that assign referees have assured that they would not assign him to any matches until further notice.
Many social media users have expressed their support for the decision made by the district.
I hope he doesn't have any job with authority over children.— Reginald Bailey (@RedBearPhilly) December 27, 2018
Amen! I thought all of these and more after watching that disgusting video. As a mother of a son who used to wrestle, I have never witnessed such a call. Blessings to Andrew Johnson. What an example of a selfless young man.— Michelle Farnsworth (@ChellYourself) December 22, 2018
However, there were some who felt like Maloney did not deserve to be punished.
When this is all said and done, the ref will have a lawsuit against the district. He was enforcing the rules!!!— Mike Lacivita (@MikeLacivita) December 27, 2018
Ridiculous!!! I had a ref tell me to cut my hair before a match midway through the season. I wasnt happy but i told my coach to cut it and went on to win my match that day. It happens, its not racism. Many other wrestlers before this young man had to make the same choice.— Jason (@Jason51108272) December 27, 2018
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