Sunday 23 October 2016

Conlan robbed in Rio

A furious Michael Conlan after defeat in Rio
A furious Michael Conlan after defeat in Rio

A furious Michael Conlan has quit amateur boxing after his controversial loss at the Olympics and accused the sport's world governing body of corruption.

London 2012 bronze medallist and World Boxing champion Conlan became the seventh and final Irish boxer to lose out at the Games in Rio.

The shock following his defeat to Russian opponent Vladimir Nikitin continued to reverberate last night as:

- A respected US boxing website published data showing that Conlan scored 89 direct hits to his opponent's 75.

- The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) announced it was going to review its High Performance Unit for the four-year period between London 2012 and Rio.

Michael Conlan (right) is shocked as Vladimir Nikitin of Russia is declared the winner after their fight Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Michael Conlan (right) is shocked as Vladimir Nikitin of Russia is declared the winner after their fight Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

- Former IABA head coach Billy Walsh, now in charge of the US boxing team, said Conlan did not deserve to lose and "completely outboxed" his opponent.

- The Russian Olympic Federation hit out at Conlan, accusing him of not being gracious in defeat.

- Conlan tweeted to the English-language Twitter account of Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking how much he paid the judges.

- And the manager of the Irish boxing team said there were rumours circulating of medals "earmarked" for certain countries.

The extraordinary turn of events kicked-off after Nikitin was awarded the victory in a highly controversial decision, which triggered a loud chorus of boos in the arena.

Conlan, who is from Belfast and is the son of Drimnagh man and boxing coach John Conlan, immediately lashed out at the judges, making a rude gesture with his fingers before applauding the Irish support.

In an explosive post-fight interview, he described the International Boxing Association (AIBA) as "f***ing cheats" and said that amateur boxing "stinks from the core right to the top".

"I'll never box for AIBA again, they're cheating b******s, they're paying everybody. I don't give a f**k if I'm cursing on TV," the told RTE after the fight. "That's the end of my Olympic gold.


"My dream has been shattered now. But you know what, I have a big career ahead of me. These ones are known for being cheats, they have always been cheats.

"Katie (Taylor) yesterday, I don't know why she lost that fight. It was a close fight but she didn't lose. Today, I thought I boxed the ears off him in the first round, and it's gone against me. I had to go to his fight, which I did.

"It's a shambles, to be honest. I don't even care what I say now. I'm gutted from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to take a gold medal back to Ireland.

"I feel like I'm going back as a loser. I'm not a loser, I'm a winner, and today just shows how corrupt this organis- ation is."

His comments provoked a furious reaction from the Russians. Igor Kazikov, head of the Russian delegation at the Games, said fighters should show dignity in defeat.

"The Russians are constantly being accused of something. Let's deal with these things in a dignified way," he said.

Former Irish coach Walsh then waded into the row when his US boxer, light-welterweight Gary Russell, missed out on a medal when a split decision went to Uzbekistan's Fazliddin Gaibnazarov.

"The judging has been atrocious," he told reporters. "The last time I saw it as bad was in Seoul in 1988 when Roy Jones Jr got robbed in the final.

"I saw Mich-ael Conlan's first two rounds in the changing area and he completely out-boxed this guy. He out-fought him in the second round and out-boxed him in the first. And he didn't get it."

Last night, respected US boxing website Comubox said its data on the bout shows Conlan should have won against Nikitin.

Comubox said Conlan threw more punches than the Russian - 365 as opposed to 257. He landed 89 (24.4pc) of these in comparison with Nikitin's 75 (29.25pc).

Conlan's defeat and fall-out - coupled with Katie Taylor's (inset) surprise loss yesterday - has plunged the future of amateur boxing in Ireland into doubt.

Joe Hennigan, the manager of the Irish Boxing team for the Rio Games, said rumours had been circulating about medals being "earmarked" for certain countries.

"I've watched a lot of contests at the Games - these boxers are giving everything and winning, but Jesus, the results that are being given against them," he said to the Herald.


"All through the week you're hearing medals being earmarked for certain countries and you don't really believe it, but when you see a contest like Katie's, who was another one done out of a place, and Michael there today you'd wonder.

"Michael trained hard for four years and then to have a decision go against him like that, it makes you wonder."

The IABA issued a statement saying it was "disappointed that for the first time since Athens in 2004 our boxers have not secured an Olympic medal".

It will launch a review of the High Performance programme, with emphasis on its zero-tolerance approach to doping.

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