Ref Tells High School Wrestler Forfeit Or Cut Your Dreads – Tha Wire
Today in Tha Wire we want to shout-out New Jersey high school hero, Andrew Johnson! The young man is a member of the Buena Regional High School wrestling team who's trainer had the heartwrenching task of cutting off his dreadlocks so he could compete in a match on December 19, 2018. Just minutes before his competition referee, Alan Maloney gave the teen an ultimatum to lose his dreadlocks or forfeit his bout.
Andrew and his team where completely blindsided by the ref's demand as this was not discussed as a factor prior to the team's registration to compete at the tournament. Furious and shocked Andrews coaches, teammates and trainers all tried to challenge the official's knowledge of rules. At the same time, they had very little recourse because they were only given 90-seconds to make a decision. Andrews coaching staff made every effort to satisfy Malolney, but he refused to reconsider saying that the teen's dreadlocks and hair cover violated state regulations.
Visibly shaken, Andrew bravely chose to adhere to the heartless demand because he didn't want to hurt his team's chances of winning the tournament. With tears running down his face, he asked a trainer to cut his hair with literally seconds left to participate in his match. Heartbroken and embarrassed Andrew won his bout anyway and, his team scored 1st place in the tournament! The win did little to fix being racially targeted in front of all his peers.
According to BET the high school juniors parents, Rosa and Charles plan to just justice for their son. They lawyered-up and vowed Maloney won't get away with deliberately maliciously humiliating their son. The Johnson's hired, Dominic A. Speziali, of the J. Fine Law Group in Philly and suing the referee for discrimination among other things. Ironically the referee thought Andrews dreads were braids when he told the 16-year old his hair "wasn't in its natural state."
WHAT!?!?! Let's be clear...outside of braids...dreadlocks are among the oldest, multi-cultural, natural hairstyles known to man! Long before the Pharoh's of Egypt wore dreads, Hindu scriptures dating back to 1700BC spoke of the God Shiva having matted locks. Before that, Greek sculptures from the Archaic period around 800-480BC were wearing dreads, The Vikings wore dreads, Samson from the Bible even sported 'seven locks' and I'm just about positive the cavemen had dreads too.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is investigating the incident. In the meantime, Speziali called the events outrageous and said Alan Maloney's conduct "appears more egregious as additional information comes to light." The ref's actions have come under heavy criticism by New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, state Assemblyman John Armato, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and many others as the story gains national attention.
Sports Illustrated reports David Cappuccio Jr. the Buena Regional School District superintendent issued a statement saying there are "Regulations regarding hair length and legal hair covers for wrestlers are provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations." So there shouldn't have been any reason for Maloney to stop Andrew from competing. Cappuccio continued "that, although the investigation in, the matter is ongoing, the assigned referee will no longer be permitted to officiate any contests that include any Buena Regional School District student-athletes."
NBC 10 reports Monday the family lawyer said: “As this matter is further investigated, the family wants to be clear that they are supportive of Andrew’s coaches and the team’s athletic trainer.”