A New Jersey referee is on the hot seat after he forced a high school wrestler to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his wrestling match. The teen, Andrew Johnson, chose to cut off his dreads, and he went on to win his match.
A viral video tweeted by South New Jersey Today on Thursday shows a white woman cutting off Johnson’s dreadlocks during a wrestling match at Buena Regional High School.
Johnson, who is biracial, was ordered to cut off his dreads by controversial referee Alan Maloney, who is white.
The teenager wore a covering over his hair, but Maloney told him he would forfeit the match if he did not cut off the dreads.
Johnson appeared visibly upset as his teammates gave him words of encouragement. He went on to win his match easily.
Many who viewed the video, including fellow referees, saw Maloney’s actions as racist — even though Johnson is not Black.
“This is discrimination period,” wrote one Twitter user.
“The real honor and solidarity would have been the team forfeiting the match not making him cut his locs. Why all of sudden was his hair a problem and not in any other of his previous matches? I’m disgusted.”
One wrestling official said Johnson’s hair was not a problem if it was legally covered.
“I’m a wrestling official in PA. A legal hair covering is all that’s required for dreadlocks.”
But the official cautioned that more information was needed before making snap judgments about the referee’s decision. “I need more info before judging like you all should. There are legitimate reasons for covering dreads when wrestling.”
Internet sleuths uncovered a history of racist acts by Maloney, including an incident when he called a fellow ref the N-word.
“This is the same ref that used racial slurs two years ago at an event. His name is Alan Maloney. He has been a problem for years,” tweeted Patrick Duff.
Many Twitter users are calling for Maloney to be fired as a ref.
“Call 973-214-9566 and ask Mark Sherman that Alan Maloney be fired as a NJ Ref. The treatment of this young man along with the racial slur he made 2 years ago makes him unfit. Shameful. Parents tell me he’s been awful for generations,” tweeted activist and journalist Shaun King on Friday.
Watch the video below.
Epitome of a team player ??
A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 20, 2018