French boxer stages ringside protest after 'headbutt' disqualification loss against Britain’s Frazer Clarke

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics: French boxer Mourad Aliev stages ringside protest after 'headbutt' disqualification loss against Britain’s Frazer Clarke - GETTY IMAGES
Tokyo 2020 Olympics: French boxer Mourad Aliev stages ringside protest after 'headbutt' disqualification loss against Britain’s Frazer Clarke - GETTY IMAGES

French boxer Mourad Aliev said his one-hour ringside protest against being controversially disqualified from his men's super heavyweight quarter-final against Britain's Frazer Clarke was in order to "send a message to the world", while his coach labelled the result “disgusting".

The 26-year-old reacted with outrage when referee Andrew Mustacchio, from the USA, stopped his fight against Clarke with just a few seconds left of the second round, a result that guaranteed the British boxer at least a bronze medal. Aliev, who had narrowly won the opening round, spat out his mouth guard and kicked it away, crying out "everyone knows I won.”

Mustacchio had determined that the Frenchman had intentionally used his head to clash with Clarke, who had significant cuts near both his eyes, a decision Aliev clearly disagreed with, sitting down alone on the canvas just outside the ropes for about half an hour. He briefly left the arena with a group of suited officials before coming back for another stint in the same spot. With his fight being the last of the morning session, there seemed little concern for his actions from anyone in the near empty arena.

"I stayed out there to send a message to the world," Aliev said via a translator. "This is my dream, my life, and I have worked for four years to prepare for the Olympics - and it has been taken away from me by something nobody can explain to me.”

John Dovi, France head coach, went further still, aiming his frustration at the officials. "If it was not that (use of head), they would have found something else, or another bogus thing in order to disqualify Mourad," he said. "They decided to make an example out of him. It is disgusting. It is terrible.

"We had the most competitive team we have ever had. We had the potential for medals. But there was always something. It seemed like they really did not want France to win a medal in boxing."

The most famous protest against a judging decision occurred in 1988 in Seoul, when South Korean bantamweight Byun Jung-il refused to leave the ring after being penalised two points for using his head illegally. Byun stayed in the ring for over an hour, and Seoul officials eventually turned out the lights.

Clarke would not be drawn on whether Aliev had made excessive use of the head in their contest, but speaking while his opponent was still mid-protest, advised him not to "ruin his reputation."

Clarke (left) said he told his opponent to 'calm down' after the bout - AP
Clarke (left) said he told his opponent to 'calm down' after the bout - AP

“It's not the way I wanted to guarantee my bronze medal, but it's happened. Anything else is out of my hands," he said.

"In the heat of the moment it's all a bit confusing. During the battle it's all very quick, all I'm concerned about is getting on with the job.The referee made his decision and we have to believe in what they do.

"I felt there was a couple of heads going in but whether it's intention or not I don't know. I’m not going to stand here and say he did it on purpose because I’m sure he would not want these Olympics to end the way it has."

"The last thing I want him to do is damage his reputation or to be rude to the judges and officials because they're only doing their job.

"I know it's hard and he's angry but the best thing to do is to calm down and go back to the changing rooms and vent your anger on someone else."

The worst Clarke can now leave Tokyo with is a bronze, with a semi-final against Bakhodir Jalolov, the 2019 world champion from Uzbekistan, to come on Wednesday.

His medal means Great Britain are guaranteed at least five from these Games, matching the tally of London 2012 and Melbourne 1956 while flyweight Galal Yafai and lightweight Caroline Dubois could yet add to that tally.

Earlier in the day Pat McCormack was handed a walkover after Aidan Walsh pulled out of their semi-final through injury, the Irish fighter having injured his ankle in the ring while celebrating his quarter-final win.

McCormack will face either Roniel Iglesias of Cuba or Russian fighter Andrey Zamkovoy in Tuesday's welterweight final.

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