JAKARTA: Ugly scuffles broke out in the arena between cornermen and security staff after an Iraqi fighter lost a split decision to an Indonesian opponent in their Asian Games bantamweight boxing quarter-final Wednesday.
Local favourite Sunan Agung Amoragam and Iraq’s Jaafar Al Sudani had gone toe-to-toe for three pulsating rounds in Jakarta before the Indonesian’s hand was held aloft on a 4-1 decision by the five judges.
While Al Sudani dropped to his knees distraught at losing a medal and Amoragam celebrated a guaranteed bronze, his coach and cornerman screamed abuse at the officials in an “unacceptable” scene, complaining the decision was rigged.
When they tried to whip up their supporters in the crowd into an angry frenzy with thumbs-down gestures, one Iraqi fan leapt over the barriers from the main stand and tried to storm the ring as an ugly melee broke out.
Security staff and volunteers tried to eject him and the two cornermen ran over and got involved in a pushing and shoving match.
When order was restored Al Sudani’s seconds and an Iraq team official were summoned into a hastily arranged meeting with International Boxing Association (AIBA) executive director Tom Virgets, who read them the riot act.
“We had a conversation about the behaviour of a coach and cornerman, regardless of which way a decision goes,” Virgets told AFP.
The Iraqis did not comment as they left the meeting.
“AIBA has allowed, for a long time, a bad culture to grow where individuals believe that they could express their opinions about every bout and about every decision and they could do it in a way that arouses a crowd.
“What I’m saying is that those days are over. It is unacceptable. We are going to change the culture.”
Veteran sports administrator Virgets, 67, who is a former amateur boxer and was president of USA Boxing from 2006-2010, said there was no plan for further sanction of the Iraqi team at this moment.
“I think the conversation should be sufficient. If it’s not, then in the future we will take stronger action.”
Amateur boxing is walking an Olympic tightrope at the moment, under threat of being kicked out of Tokyo 2020 after a series of judging scandals at Rio 2016 saw referees and judges suspended.
“They were very receptive and very understanding of what I was saying,” Virgets continued after being locked in a room with them for around 20 minutes.
“I think they understand the position that AIBA has now.”
Virgets -who was appointed AIBA executive director earlier this year tasked with stamping out its old corrupt culture, establishing transparency and improving officiating - said he could understand passions running high when major Games medals are at stake.
“It was a great bout, but no coach and no boxer thinks they lost a bout. I hate that a fighter boxes so well and loses, but I could have said that equally about the other fighter.
“But we have to be good sportsmen and accept the decision of the judges.”—AFP
Did you find this article insightful?