Sunday, October 1|
Referee mars what could have been gold
SYDNEY, Australia -- Ricardo Juarez has a special place in
U.S. Olympic boxing history alongside Roy Jones Jr. and Evander
Unfortunately for Juarez, he shares one other thing with Jones
and Holyfield -- none has a gold medal.
Scandal touched an American boxer once again Sunday just as
Olympic boxing seemed headed toward a relatively trouble-free
finish. It came at the hands of a Russian referee, and it cost
Juarez the gold medal he so coveted.
"I feel in my heart I won the gold medal so I don't really
count it as a loss," Juarez said. "But it goes down in the books
as a loss."
Juarez, who had won 68 straight fights, saw it coming. Referee
Stanislav Kirsanov kept giving Bekzat Sattarkhanov of Kazakstan
cautions, but never penalized him for repeated holding that kept
Juarez from scoring points in his 22-14 loss.
Worse yet, Sattarkhanov kept talking to the referee during the
"It wasn't until the third round when I hear this guy say a
word," Juarez said. The fighter would look at the referee and tell
him a specific word. I knew something was going on then and
Olympic boxing officials apparently agreed, although their idea
of how to take care of the problem was a bit odd.
Kirsanov was suspended from refereeing for four years for his
inaction in the ring, but the decision was not overturned.
"I didn't come here to get the silver medal. I'm very
disappointed," Juarez said.
U.S. officials were outraged, though they stopped short of
calling the fight a fix.
"He was supposed to be the best referee in Europe so I don't
know how he could be so incompetent today," U.S. coach Tom Mustin
The United States had considered lodging protests on both gold
medal fights involving Americans, saying that judges didn't score
enough points for Ricardo Williams Jr. in his loss to Mahamadkadyz
Abdullaev of Uzbekistan.
But they decided to focus on the Juarez fight because the
holding of Juarez was so blatant that it was obvious.
"Everyone could see it with their own eyes," Holyfield said.
"When you have a referee not doing his job, it's just not fair to
Holyfield was denied his shot at a gold medal in 1984 when he
knocked out New Zealand's Kevin Barry after a command to stop
boxing and was disqualified. Roy Jones Jr. was named outstanding
boxer of the 1988 Olympics by embarrassed Olympic officials who
couldn't explain why judges gave the gold medal fight to Korea's
Boxing was on the ropes as an Olympic sport after the Jones
scandal, and at least one International Olympic Committee member
who watched Sunday's fight was outraged.
"To me, this is a scandal. The Americans who lost should not
have lost," said Gerhard Heiberg, an IOC member from Norway.
Heiberg said he thought the former Soviet Union republics and
Russia were in collusion and that it was no accident that a Russian
referee was in the ring with a fighter from Kazakstan.
"It was political. They keep changing among the ones from
Russia, Kazakstan and Uzbekistan," Heiberg said.
Heiberg, who was previously a critic of Olympic boxing, said he
would press the IOC to investigate the latest incident.
"I'm not a favorite of the United States, but this can't be
allowed to stand," he said.
Former Soviet Union boxers were the surprise of the Olympics,
winning five of the 12 golds and seven silver medals. Kazakstan won
two golds and two silvers, while Russia won two golds, three silver
and two bronze medals.
"You used to have to worry about one Russian. Now you've got to
worry about a bunch of them," Mustin said.
Mustin and other U.S. officials had muttered throughout the
tournament that the former Soviet Union boxers were getting away
with repeated holding, pushing and other dirty tactics.
"I think the refereeing was slanted a bit toward European
countries," Mustin said. "We box relatively clean in the United
States and none of the holding, pushing and that stuff is