Andrew Johnson, who wrestles for Buena High in Atlantic County, New Jersey, went viral in a video of him being forced to cut his hair. After national outrage aimed at referee Alan Maloney, who allegedly has a racist past, a new report says that Johnson is still being harassed.
Johnson took a break from competing due to the media attention around the way he was treated. However, he returned last weekend and NBC News reports, “An attorney for wrestler Andrew Johnson claims officials and referees are still giving him grief over his hair and have an ‘unrelenting fixation’ with him.”
Dominic Speziali, the Johnson family’s lawyer, sent a letter on Wednesday to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, claiming that the 16-year-old “went through a routine weigh-in and check of his hair and skin. But then, Speziali said, a referee informed a Buena coach that Johnson would have to cover his hair before he could wrestle.” Johnson’s mother asked why and was told “that there was some confusion and it was another wrestler that would have to wear a hair covering, not Andrew,” according to Speziali.
The lawyer also said, “However, no wrestler for Buena or Buena’s first opponent wore any type of hair covering. Andrew wrestled in four matches without wearing a hair covering and without any referee raising an issue about his hair.”
On Wednesday, a match was canceled just hours before it was set to happen because “questions over hairstyle came up again.”
Speziali wrote in his letter, “Yet it appears, for reasons that the Division can hopefully soon unmask, that certain officials have a desire to unnecessarily escalate and prolong this ordeal due on an unrelenting fixation on the hair of a 16-year-old young man that asked for absolutely none of this.” The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association claims they are investigating.
See the original video below:
As it was revealed after the video went viral, the referee, Alan Maloney, has 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.”
Sounds like the school should be more concerned about their racist referee than a 16-year-old’s hair.