Boxing-Irish boxer Conlan feels vindicated by findings of report into Rio Games


FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Boxing - Quarterfinal - Men's Bantam (56kg) Quarterfinals Bout 223 - Riocentro - Pavilion 6 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 16/08/2016. Michael Conlan (IRL) of Ireland competes. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

LONDON (Reuters) -Irish boxer Michael Conlan said he felt vindicated by an independent report published on Thursday that found evidence of corruption and manipulation of bouts https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/bout-manipulation-existed-rio-2016-olympics-says-independent-report-2021-09-30 at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Conlan's quarter-final defeat in Rio triggered an outcry at the time, with the bantamweight blasting boxing's world body AIBA as 'corrupt', 'rotten to the core' and saying officials had robbed him of his dream.

The report, led by Richard McLaren and commissioned by AIBA, suggested at least nine bouts were suspicious while two bouts caused the system to "publicly collapse".

One of those two was Conlan's against Russia's Vladimir Nikitin, who was so badly injured despite being declared the winner that he was unable to fight in the semi-final but still collected a bronze medal.

"I'm going to be honest, the news today was a shock... I thought it was all put to bed, it was finished and nothing was going to happen, but here we are five years later and probably coming to a final close, which is great," Conlan told Reuters.

"I'm delighted and I hope that justice will be served. It shows that my reactions and my actions during the time were just and now hopefully I'll have a bit of vindication by the end of this."

Conlan, a 2012 bronze medallist, was the reigning world and European Champion in 2016, and he said the controversial split decision that gave Nikitin victory broke him completely.

"My goal as a boxer when I started boxing was to become Olympic Champion -- I will never, ever become a champion because of what happened," he said.

"I'm probably never going to get that back and it is something I will have to probably live with for the rest my life.

"To be a double Olympic medallist, which I should have been, even though I believe it should have been champion... I think for the decision to be overturned would be fantastic."

'I WANT MY MEDAL'

Conlan, who turned professional after the Olympics, hoped decisions could be overturned and a medal awarded.

"I want my medal, that is when I feel that justice will be done, when they send me that medal in the post. I'll even go to Switzerland if they will hand me it there," he said.

"And also if they can take away the 10,000 Swiss Francs ($10,704) they charged me with because of my reaction at the Games, I'll be happy too. And then a wee apology wouldn't go amiss."

However, he said that the injustice of Rio had probably benefited his career more than winning gold and his earnings had not been affected.

Conlan added that the fighters who benefited from the corruption should not be penalised.

"It wasn't their fault, they weren't the guys controlling what was going on, they weren't the guys making decisions," he said.

"They were just going in there believing they were fighting honestly and winning honestly, but there was much going on behind the scenes."

Another Rio fight called into question was the super-heavyweight final between Britain's Joe Joyce and France's Tony Yoka, with the latter taking gold. Both are unbeaten as professionals.

($1 = 0.9342 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Iain Axon, additional reporting by Alan Baldwin, Writing by Rohith Nair; editing by Toby Davis)

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