A white referee forced a high school wrester to cut his dreadlocks before a match

December, 2018
United States of America

The parents of an African-American high school wrestler who was forced by a white official to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match spoke out on December 24, expressing gratitude for the outpouring of support their son has received as an investigation into the incident continues.

Andrew Johnson, a junior at Buena Regional High School in southern New Jersey, was about to step on the mat for the 120-pound bout when referee Alan Maloney reportedly said his thick, dark brown dreadlocks and hair cover violated state regulations.

The National Federation of State High School Associations dictates the rules for high school wrestling matches. One of its new points of emphasis for wrestling officials this year is to ensure all equipment worn on the mat, including hair coverings, fits “snug” to a wrestler’s body.

Maloney gave Johnson a choice: get a quick haircut or forfeit the match. Buena coaches and players argued with Maloney, according to SNJToday, which tweeted out a video of the scene. But the referee started the injury clock (wrestlers are allowed 90 seconds per match to receive medical treatment) and Johnson opted for the haircut.

Source: National Post