It’s been a few days since Michael Conlan was robbed of his chance to wear Olympic gold in Rio. Now we look back at some of the worst Olympic judging scandals in history.
Roy Jones Jr. Robbed at the 1988 Olympic Games
Roy Jones Jr. was just 19 years old when he competed in the Seoul Olympic Games. His tremendous skill was apparent early on, as he defeated his first four opponents with ease, one of the victories coming by way of KO. His opponent in the finals was South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun, and most favored Jones to come out victorious.
Over the course of three rounds, Roy Jones Jr. out boxed his opponent. At the end, Jones had landed 86 punches while Park landed just 32. There was also a moment in the first round where Park was given a standing eight count after being hit with a big punch. Nearly everyone in the audience and watching on TV saw Jones clearly won, but the judges felt differently. Park was awarded the decision in what is considered by many to be the worst decision in amateur boxing history.
The IOC immediately launched an investigation into the judge’s decision. It was later determined that although the ringside judges had dined with South Korean organizers in the days prior to the fight, no corruption took place. Many still dispute this, but the decision remains the same.
Floyd Mayweather at the 1996 Games in Atlanta
Money Mayweather may be the most recognizable boxer walking today, but at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he was just a young up and comer. His skills were sharp even then, and he used his quick punches and defensive skills to defeat his first three opponents, in the process becoming the first American to defeat a Cuban boxer since 1977.
In the semi-finals, Mayweather was pitted against Serafin Todorov of Bulgaria. Mayweather appeared to have won the fight after 3 rounds, but the judges made US gambling news by controversially awarding Todorov with the victory. Even the referee accidentally raised Floyd’s hand assuming he had won.
Mayweather was irate after the decision was read, telling reporters, “Everybody knows Floyd Mayweather is the gold-medal favorite at 57 kilograms. In America, it’s known as 125 pounds. You know and I know I wasn’t getting hit. They say he’s the world champion. Now you all know who the real world champion is.” To many, this was one of the worst Olympic judging scandals in history.
Shin A-Lam Left in Tears in London
South Korean fencer Shin A-Lam entered into the 2012 Olympic Games as one of the sport’s top prospects to win gold. She had won bronze at the World Championships just two years prior, and looked ready to bring gold back to her hometown.
In A-Lam’s semifinal match against German born Britta Heidemann, timekeepers accidentally (we hope) extended the time of the bout. Without the time increase, Shin A-Lam would have tied her opponent, according to US gambling laws. 0.02 extra seconds was all Heidemann needed to score one more point on the South Korean.
Shin A-Lam sat alone on the fencing stage for over an hour awaiting the judge’s decision, sobbing uncontrollable the entire time. Finally, the judges decided to award Heidemann the victory, and lost out on her chance to chance to win gold in the individual epee.
Yang Tae-Young Loses his Chance at Gold in 2004
Yang Tae-Young was considered one of South Korea’s best Olympic gymnasts in 2004. Now, he is best known for one of the worst Olympic judging scandals that potentially robbed him of a gold medal.
During the parallel bars of the all-around event, Young executed a move with precision. Unfortunately, judges mistook the move for a simpler skill, and awarded him 9.9 points at the end of the routine. The gymnast before Young had received 10 points, meaning the South Korean was stuck with a bronze medal.
The Korean Olympic Committee attempted to protest the decision, but to no avail. The three judges were in fact suspended from the Olympic Games, but Young’s finishing place remained the same. The KOC eventually awarded Young with a gold medal of their own as a show of support to their athlete.
Michael Conlan Loses to Vladimir Nikitin
You can’t have a list of Olympic judging scandals without listing Michael Conlan’s recent loss to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin. This seems like a fight that will be brought up for some time, and has already opened up the discussion on whether corruption still exists in Olympic judging.
By the time Conlan stepped into the ring in his quarter-final bout, he was Ireland’s last Olympic boxer competing. The Belfast native was seen by most as Ireland’s best shot at winning boxing gold, and a fantastic win over Aram Avagyan helped fuel that hope. Then, in a stunning decision, Conlan was booted from the games.
To most watching, including the commentators, Conlan clearly won at least two rounds against Nikitin. He showed far better technique and evaded most of the Russian’s punches. The judges saw something different, and awarded the Russian the unanimous decision to a stunned crowd. Conlan could not contain his anger afterwards, flipping off the judges and telling reporters he would never box in the amateur leagues again.
What do you think are the worst Olympic judging scandals? Do you think Conlan won his fight against Nikitin? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US to see a full list of the best websites for betting on the 2016 Olympic Games!