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1 Aug, 2021 12:20

‘An act of sabotage’: Olympic boxer Aliev stages sit-in protest to complain about ‘unfair’ disqualification

‘An act of sabotage’: Olympic boxer Aliev stages sit-in protest to complain about ‘unfair’ disqualification

French Olympic hopeful Mourad Aliev says that his 30-minute sit-in protest in the ring was to express his opposition to his disqualification in his quarter-inal bout with Briton Frazer Clarke for 'repeated use of the head'.

The 26-year-old fighter was disqualified in the second round of his crunch fight with Clarke after officials deemed that Aliev was "excessively" using his head in clinch exchanges with his opponent, which prompted a furious reaction from the Frenchman.

Clarke, though, was wearing the damage from the head clashes – with cuts opening up above each of his eyes which promoted the intervention of doctors.

The Englishman is now guaranteed a medal but concerns have been expressed that the gashes could hinder him as he makes his own pursuit for gold.

Aliev was clearly unhappy with the call and lashed out in the ring, kicking the canvas and angrily complaining to ringside officials – actions he later said were "natural" because he had "prepared my whole life for this event".

He then spent a total of 30 minutes sitting on the ring apron before subsequently leaving the arena, only to return shortly afterwards and take up his position on the ring apron once again.

"I sat down to protest against the unfairness for me," Aliev later said.

"I prepared for these Games for four years. I really wanted to fight against the injustice, so that was my way to show that I don't agree with that decision."

His contempt at the officiating, he says, stems from not being warned by the referee that disqualification was being considered due to what he said were accidental head clashes.

"I was just stopped without any warning and they just told me that 'you lost' – just like that. So I think it was an act of sabotage," he said.

Clarke, who hopes that the aforementioned cuts won't impede him in his next bout, says that he doesn't believe that Aliev's headbutts were intentional.

"I'm not going to stand here and say he did it on purpose because I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted his Olympics to end in the way they have," he said.

"I told him to calm down because I've been in those situations before. The last thing I want him to do is damage his reputation or be rude to the judges and officials, because they are only doing their job."

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Aliev's remonstration harks back to one of the more notorious incidents in Olympic boxing history when, in 1988, South Korean bantamweight Byun Jong-il sat in the center of the ring for 67 minutes after he was defeated, delaying the rest of the competition by well over an hour.

For those who watched Aliev's protest in real time, the overwhelming opinion appears to be that he had a point.

"No surprise Aliev was fuming – thought he deserved a point deduction for being too careless with his head, but the immediate DQ was very harsh," said one boxing fan. "Still, not sure what the protest could achieve, even if he had a solid case?"

"'Brilliant' performance from the referee who stole the decision. What a shame. Aliev deserved better," added a second.

"There were no warnings. Aliev was winning easily," another fan agreed.

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