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The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire

It Wasn't Just the Referee Who Stole Ricardo Juarez's Gold
by Adam Pollack

Although Ricardo "Rocky" Juarez was officially awarded the silver medal against Kazakhstan's Bekzat Sattarkhanov in Olympic boxing's 125 pound division, he should consider himself the gold medalist, because Sattarkhanov's incessant illegal holding certainly did not present the picture of a gold medalist. Sattarkhanov should credit both Russian referee Stanislav Kirsanov and AIBA (The International Amateur Boxing Association) with an assist.

It is clear that holding in amateur boxing is considered a foul. When a fighter holds, he is essentially saying he either does not want to fight or cannot fight. The only time out a boxer should be allowed is between rounds. Generally, a referee will issue three cautions for a foul before issuing a warning, where the referee with approval from the judges adds two points to the other boxer's score in international boxing. Subsequent infractions for the same foul result in warnings, not cautions. Three warnings in a bout result in disqualification. Translation: Holding five times in a bout should constitute a disqualification.

Sattarkhanov should have been disqualified or Juarez should have won the bout based on proper additions to his score as a result of warnings. In the first round, the referee issued two official cautions to Sattarkhanov for holding. A third official holding caution was issued in the second. No warning was issued. In the third round, the referee issued Sattarkhanov four official cautions for holding. No warning was issued. In the fourth round, Kirsanov issued another two holding cautions, but again failed to issue warnings. In total, Kirsanov issued nine official holding cautions, but not once did he issue a warning. Even attempting to be conservative, Sattarkhanov clearly held at least 21 times. Sattarkhanov was officially allowed to hold four more times than he should have without being disqualified. The final score was 22-14, but with points which should have been added to Juarez's score, even without a disqualification, Rocky won the bout.

Following the bout, the U.S. lodged an official protest. Juarez claimed that Sattarkhanov was speaking to Kirsanov throughout the bout. "The referee was on his side. Russia and Kazakhstan are right next to each other," Juarez said. "Throughout the whole fight, the guy was holding…I feel the referee and the fighter didn't let me fight my fight." As a result, AIBA suspended referee Stanislav Kirsanov from officiating international boxing tournaments for four years, until after the next Olympic Games. However, AIBA denied the request to overturn the decision awarding Sattarkhanov the gold medal.

Kirsanov has been made the scapegoat, but AIBA is responsible for the theft as much as Kirsanov. Unfortunately, throughout the 2000 Olympic boxing tournament, referees have failed to caution and/or warn boxers for rules infractions. Cautions without the penalty of a warning are essentially meaningless and actually give the boxer who held exactly what he wants - a rest and the ability not to fight on the inside. AIBA has allowed referees to allow boxers to violate the rules with very infrequent penalties. This set a poor tone for the 125 pound final between Juarez and Sattarkhanov, and allowed certain fighters to advance in the tournament who possibly should not have advanced.

Finally, AIBA had no business allowing a Russian referee to officiate a bout between America and a former Soviet Union country, Kazakhstan. Olympic referees are supposed to be from neutral countries so as not to present even the appearance of partiality. Allowing Kirsanov to referee the bout is another poor reflection upon AIBA. USA Boxing president Gary Toney said "it's difficult that a referee who makes the final of the Olympics is so incompetent -- maybe that does raise questions." Ricardo Juarez fought like a gold medalist, was the better fighter in the ring, and should be treated as such.
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