Alan Maloney Forces Teenage Wrestler Andrew Johnson To Cut His Hair

South Jersey referee Alan Maloney is facing backlash after requiring black high school wrestler Andrew Johnson to cut his dreadlocks in order to wrestle in an important match

  • Video shows a woman in a team jacket cutting Johnson’s dreads on the side of the ring

  • Johnson had wrestled with his dreads since 2016 and never had a problem before

  • Maloney is currently not allowed to ref while a state investigation is conducted

  • In 2016 Maloney made the news after using a racial slur against a black referee during an argument

People are calling for well-known South Jersey wrestling referee Alan Maloney to be fired after he forced Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson to choose between cutting off his dreadlocks or not be allowed to wrestle in an important match.

Johnson was wearing a head covering over his hair, but that wasn’t enough for Maloney as he told the teenage wrestler he would lose the match if he did not cut his hair on the spot. Johnson was given roughly 90 seconds to make a decision. Video from the match shows a white woman in a team jacket cutting Johnson’s hair as he appears to be visibly distraught.

After his hair was cut, Johnson wrestled and won in a sudden moment during overtime. After the match, Maloney gave Johnson a halfass victory announcement as he briefly grabbed his wrist and quickly dropped it despite what the teen had endured for that victory. After the match, it was noted that Johnson still looked distressed.

Mike Frankel, a south New Jersey news site’s sports editor, caught backlash after praising Johnson and saying he was the “epitome of a team player” and clearly missing the bigger picture.

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.

The response to Frankel’s description of the events brought scrutiny as many said he ignored the appalling behavior of the adults at the match that forced a young wrestler to choose between part of his identity and the sport he loves. Sabrina Joy Stevens accused Frankel of confusing a humiliating act with “good sportsmanship.”

This is disgusting. You all watched adults force a child to choose between part of his identity and the sport he loves & praised his acquiescence to that humiliating choice as “good sportsmanship.” Appalling doesn’t even begin to describe this whole situation or your sick praise.

Frankel later sent out another tweet apologizing for how he had described what he witnessed. In the tweet, Frankel said the “coaches argued the referee’s decision for several minutes, until the referee started the injury time clock.” Frankel went on to say, “I know I missed the bigger picture, and for that I apologize.”

Hi everyone – thanks for chiming in here today. Some additional context:

The wrestler’s coaches argued the referee’s decision for several minutes, until the referee started the injury time clock.

At this point, the wrestler removed the cap, and agreed to have his hair cut.

I understand there are several levels to this story. Serious levels worth serious discussion.

Those discussions should not include threatening me in any way.

This is Twitter, so these words will sound hollow, but I am the furthest thing from a racist. I’ve covered local sports in South Jersey for over a decade, and any local coach and/or athlete can certainly attest to my positive and fair coverage.

Obviously it was naive of me to run with the “consummate team player” angle. In my mind, it was just the ultimate selfless move from a high school athlete. I know now I missed the bigger picture, and for that I apologize.

Things can be “framed” in a number of ways. According to many of you, I missed the correct “framing: here. I understand many of you watch this video and feel strong emotions. I do too. I’d just like to remind you that I didn’t cause the action, I documented the action. And my method of delivery fell short in many ways.

Sincerely,

Mike

Leslie Streeter replied to Frankel’s apology and reminded him that the “story shouldn’t be about whether you’re racist. It should be that you watched a young kid be shorn like a sheep and completely missed how humiliating that likely was.”

I am sorry that you were threatened. That’s horrifying. But the story shouldn’t be about whether you’re racist. It should be that you watched a young kid be shorn like a sheep and completely missed how humiliating that likely was. Be safe. And more observant.

Some came to Maloney’s defense following the backlash. Howie O’Neill, a member of the Southern Chapter of the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association, claimed Maloney told Johnson he could not wrestle without a legally sanctioned cover for his dreadlocks. “Nobody made him cut his hair,” O’Neill told Philly.com. “It was his choice to cut his dreadlocks.”

Read: Prada Soho In New York Goes Viral For Displays Resembling “Blackface”

Larry White, Executive Director for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association released a statement that said Maloney was under investigation and would not be allowed to referee until that investigation was completed. The NJSIAA said it was now a state investigation and they would be working with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

Following up on yesterday’s statement concerning a Buena Regional High School (Buena, NJ) varsity wrestler and a wrestling referee, the NJSIAA can now confirm that the matter will be investigated by state authorities. The NJSIAA will be working with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, providing all requested information. The State investigation will take precedence over the NJSIAA process.

Further, NJSIAA can confirm that those groups that assign high school wrestling referees in New Jersey will not assign the referee in question until this matter has been thoroughly reviewed. This will help to avoid disruption of events for student athletes.

Finally, as an African-American and parent – as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete – I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most. The NJSIAA takes this matter very seriously, and I ask that everyone respect the investigatory process related to all parties involved.

A petition on change.org is demanding for Maloney to lose his position. The petition has received 8,700 signatures out of the 10,000 signature goal. The description for the petition says Maloney “is known for his racial slurs.”

Alan Maloney, who is known for his racial slurs, ordered a black wrestler, Andrew Johnson, cut off his secured and compliant dread locks in order to “qualify” to wrestle at a match. The child’s dreadlocks were hastily cut off in front of everyone so that he could go on to participate. The treatment of this young man should never have been allowed, his history of racial slurs and treatment of this young man show that Alan Maloney is unfit to be a fair referee.

In 2016, NJ.com reported on Maloney after he called a black fellow referee a “nigger” during an argument over homemade wine following a youth tournament in Wildwood. The other referee, Preston Hamilton, slammed Maloney to the ground following his use of the racial slur. Maloney claimed he did not even remember making the comment and was later told what he had said.

You know, people do make mistakes and I apologized. I really don’t think this should go any further than it’s gone anyhow. The remark was not made to him. After he told me what I said, it was pertaining to us breaking each other’s stones. I didn’t remember it. I was told it. I believed it and said, ‘Yo, that ain’t me.’ That’s when I called him right away and that’s when he told me we were good.

Both Maloney and Hamilton were suspended as referees for one year but both men appealed the suspensions which were later overturned. Johnson has reportedly wrestled with his dredlocks since 2016.

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Meko Haze is an independent journalist by day... and an independent journalist by night.

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