Boxing at the Olympics has always had its controversies.
The old points scoring system was long criticised, and was eventually scrapped in favour of the professional system, where judges use their expertise to determine a winner.
But at Rio, there’s been yet more criticisms after Irish boxer Michael Conlon was adjudged to have lost a fight against Russian bantamweight, Vladimir Nikitin.
Nikitin won the contest 3-0 (meaning judges awarded the Russian all three rounds), and when the decision was announced, the watching world was furious.
Conlon clearly won the fight in the eyes of many viewers, but it was the Russian who advanced to the semi-final, where he will face American Shakur Stevenson.
After the bout, the 24-year-old Conlon was interviewed for Irish TV, and he didn’t hold back:
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 16, 2016
Paddy Power then announced they were paying out on all bets for Conlon to win, in an attempt at restoring some justice to an Olympics that has been littered with boxing controversies.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 16, 2016Advertisement
Earlier in the day, the heavyweight gold medal was won by Evgeny Tishchenko, another Russian, who was awarded the final 3-0, despite suffering a cut on the head in the first round, and spending most of the fight on the back foot.
The crowd in the arena were aware that the decision stunk of bullshit, and promptly booed the fighter as he was awarded his medal.
You can see how dismayed his opponent, Vassiliy Levit, is in the below photo:
Conlon’s thinly-veiled criticism of the corrupt nature of the sport has also been backed up by The Guardian, who revealed that corruption could actually be widespread at the Rio games.
And the fact that the two of the most high profile decisions have both included Russian boxers doesn’t do much to disprove that report.
Nor does it do anything for the profile of Russian sport, which has been rife with controversies for some time.
They were almost given a blanket ban on competing at the Rio games (however, they were only banned from competing in weightlifting, rowing, athletics and canoeing, in the end), after a state wide doping scheme was uncovered.
They have also been banned from competing at the Paralympic Games later this month.
Boxing remains one of the easier sports to fix, as in theory, you only have to bribe three people to determine the outcome of a medal, rather than a number of other teams or competitors.
That makes decisions like the ones we’ve seen today far too commonplace for anyone’s liking, and, like Conlon said, shatters dreams that athletes have been working tirelessly for.