You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Irish boxer flips off judges, accuses Vladimir Putin after losing controversial decision

USA TODAY USA TODAY 17/08/2016 Martin Rogers
Michael Conlan lost a controversial decision to Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarterfinals. © Jason Getz, USA TODAY Sports Michael Conlan lost a controversial decision to Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarterfinals.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Vladimir Putin, Floyd Mayweather, cussing on live TV, fighters flipping judges the bird, accusations of mass corruption and a big old conspiracy theory. Yes, Tuesday was an eventful day for Olympic boxing.

Even before he set his furious sights on Russian president Putin, Irish boxer Michael Conlan already had staked a claim on the record for the most explosive post-defeat rant of these Games.

Conlan seemed to have done enough to record a narrow points victory over Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in their quarterfinal in the 56-kilogram division, only for the judges to award Nikitin the decision.

It was part of an explosive day. Later, American Gary Russell was another fighter on the receiving end of a disputed decision. Retired pound-for-pound pro boxing king Mayweather, in attendance, said Russell had “clearly been robbed.”

Michael Conlan after his bout. © Reuters Michael Conlan after his bout. As for Conlan, he began a verbal attack at international boxing chiefs every bit as fierce as his fistic attacks within the ring.

“AIBA (International Boxing Association) are cheats,” he said. “They’re f***ing cheats. I’ll never box (under) AIBA again. They’re cheating *******. They’re paying everybody. I don’t give a f*** that I’m cursing on TV.

“My dream has been shattered now, but you know what, I have a big career ahead of me. They’re known for being cheats. They’ll always be cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top.”

The 24-year-old from Belfast is tipped as a strong pro prospect and was looking for an Olympic gold medal to use as a platform for a lucrative entry into the paid ranks.

He was distraught when the decision was read out, but the red mist soon descended. Conlan delivered a double middle-finger salute to the judges before using television interviews to speak out at his perceived injustice.

His frustration was genuine and in all honesty, compelling to watch. But he wasn’t finished yet. Having found an official English language Twitter handle for Putin’s ministry, he rattled off a bitter Tweet that appeared to suggest the politician may have had a hand in swaying the judges.

“How much did they charge you bro?”

If nothing else, you have to admire his cheek, even if it might not have been the best-advised course of action. Putin’s government has already been accused of tampering with sports as part of a mass state-wide doping protocol unearthed by the World Anti Doping Agency. But as extensive as that malfeasance was, fixing all of the potential judges necessary to rig a boxing tournament would take a monumental conspiracy.

AIBA, however, did not exactly cast itself in a positive light by being one of the sports governing bodies that decided to let Russia take part, despite evidence provided in the McLaren report.

“With people watching decisions like this, Olympic boxing is dead,” Conlan added. “It’s about whoever pays the most money, whoever has the most influence. The Russian didn’t believe he had won. I didn’t believe he had won. The referee didn’t believe he had won. I came here for gold but now I will never box in the Olympics again.”

Neither AIBA nor Putin’s ministry were immediately available for comment.

Russell was another fighter that felt short-changed after losing to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddi Gaibnazarov in a 64-kilogram quarterfinal, and was also left devastated.

International boxing came under fire ahead of the tournament for deciding to bring in two radical rules changes — the banning of headgear in the men’s competition, and opening up spots enabling professional fighters to compete.

The criticism for those moves was severe – though nothing as acerbic as Conlan’s remarkable verbal attack, the loudest part of a contentious day.


image beaconimage beaconimage beacon