Vladimir Putin’s scope of influence has apparently entered the realm of sports. The Russian president has been accused of bribing Olympic boxing judges to ensure Russian fighters get gold medals.
Tensions between competing fighters often run high in high-stakes boxing events such as those at the Olympics. It has become customary for losing parties to disapprove the final scorecard. Public objections from fighters are often deemed as reasonable albeit harmless reactionary displays.
In this year’s Olympic boxing events, grievances from losing parties seem to carry a ton of weight. Results have been heavily-criticized for not matching the reality in the ring. A suspicious trend has also emerged. The inaccurate scorecards seem to favor Russian fighters. Their opponents have cried foul and have accused Putin of conniving with the judges.
Bantamweight fighter Michael Conlan of Ireland was infuriated after losing in the quarterfinals to Vladimir Nikitin. Despite the Irishman’s clear dominance, all three scorecards read 29-28 in favor of the Russian, as per Yahoo Sports.
Conlan reacted accordingly and gave double middle fingers to judges Jones Kennedy Silva do Rosario, Udeni Talik Bandara Kiridena and Mariusz Gorny. He later sent out a tweet asking the International Boxing Association how much Putin paid them to rig matches.
In the heavyweight category, Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan lost in the gold medal match on Monday against Evgeny Tishchenko of Russia. Levit had hurt and battered Tishchenko, but it was the Russian who snagged the gold medal in a controversial 29-28 unanimous decision victory.
According to Bad Left Hook, the audience booed the decision and hooted Tishchenko at the podium. Levit, who was cheered as he received his silver medal, urged the crowd that the decision wasn’t Tishchenko’s fault.
The International Boxing Association has since addressed the widespread complaints. ESPN reported that the organization has removed an undisclosed number of judges and referees from the 2016 Rio Olympics. AIBA stated that the umpires were relieved from their posts for gross incompetence.
“It has been decided in accordance with the AIBA R&J evaluation committee that the concerned referees and judges will no longer officiate at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” read AIBA’s press statement. “In accordance with AIBA Rules the result of all the bouts will stand.”
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