It was the haircut seen around the world — or at least all over social media, which caused tons of rightful outrage. Andrew Johnson wrestles for Buena High in Atlantic County, New Jersey. During a match, he was told by referee Alan Maloney he had to cut off his locs or could not play night against a competing school. On camera, his locs were cut off. A reporter who attended the match said, “The wrestler’s coaches argued the referee’s decision for several minutes, until the referee started the injury time clock. At this point, the wrestler removed the cap, and agreed to have his hair cut.”
He won the match but referee Alan Maloney is the loser.
NJ.com reports, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said Friday it will “recommend to chapter officials that the referee in question not be assigned to any event.”
However, NJ.com reports that the Buena superintendent David Cappuccio Jr. appeared to also defend the referee in Friday’s statement, saying “the referee indicated his hair length and headgear were not in compliance with regulations. The referee added that if the wrestler’s hair was not in compliance, the match would be forfeited, prompting Johnson to decide to cut his hair.” Then why was Johnson ever allowed to step on a mat with his locs? Why did “regulations” suddenly pop up right when he was about to play?
The referree also has a a history of racism. NJ.com alleges he “used a racial slur at a social gathering of officials in March 2016. He used the slur in an argument over homemade wine in a Jersey Shore condo after many officials gathered following a youth tournament in Wildwood. Another official, Preston Hamilton, who is Black, then slammed Maloney to the ground over the remark.”
For now, Maloney will not be permitted to officiate Buena matches.
Let’s hope this referee is properly punished — and the adults, like his coach, who allowed this to happen, will be reprimanded.