An American-born fighter for Honduras launched an angry tirade at boxing authorities, accusing them of corruption, after he exited the Rio Olympics on a debatable unanimous points decision.
The highly rated teenager Teofimo Lopez said the International Boxing Association (AIBA) “stole my dream” after judges ruled Sofiane Oumiha of France won their lightweight contest.
The AIBA swiftly rejected his “unacceptable” claims, after Lopez and his father who is his trainer said the amateur boxing body had snatched the win away.
The crowd booed the decision loudly and the 19-year-old Lopez, who switched to represent Honduras so he could get a place in Rio, sank to his knees in the middle of the ring, before performing a defiant backflip.
Lopez had until recently represented the United States and won the Olympic trials, but was not granted a spot in Rio for Team USA because of the convoluted qualifying process — more evidence, he said, that the odds were unfairly stacked against him from the start.
“You heard the boos,” said the Brooklyn-born Lopez, who was eligible for Honduras through his parents, but claimed that neither the AIBA nor Honduras wanted him in Rio.
“The AIBA did not want me to win because we will make it more controversial because AIBA stole my dream,” said the Florida-based Lopez. “It is a corrupted organisation.”
“Look at us now, we are fighting without headguards, we have professionals coming in,” he added, referring to two recent controversial moves by the AIBA.
“I had everything against me, against all odds,” Lopez said.
An AIBA spokesman immediately rejected the accusations.
“He has just come out the ring, he is hot and he has not had the chance to replay the fight yet. It is his personal judgment.
“AIBA is always on a level playing field and all these accusations are subjective and it’s unacceptable.
“There’s no particular issue with any boxers. As he said, the Olympics was his dream, and we understand the disappointment.”
The boxer’s fuming father Teofimo Lopez Snr berated his teenage son in the media area afterwards for failing to win, but reserved his real fire for boxing officials.
“I was expecting it,” he said. “They took it from him after he won the Olympic trials too. If we had represented the USA we would probably have had a better chance of winning.
“He won the fight. But I told him from the beginning, you got to kill this guy, otherwise you are not going to win.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines