UPDATE - 3:50PM 12/21:

Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic, said the incident "was without a doubt a clear act of racial discrimination."

"Alan Maloney, someone who shouldn't have been allowed to work as a referee after previous condemned actions, should be banned immediately," Armato said. "This is sure to be traumatic experience that Johnson should have never encountered. I admire that even in the face of discrimination this young athlete refused to let ignorance hold him back from a win. I will be reaching out to the Buena school board to ensure that this is dealt with properly."

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UPDATE - 3PM 12/21:

The NJSIAA has issued the following statement:

NJSIAA Statement / Buena Regional High School Wrestling

from Larry White, executive Director, NJSIAA

12/21/2018 2:51 PM

“Regarding a situation concerning a Buena Regional High School (Buena, NJ) varsity wrestler and a wrestling referee, the NJSIAA has been in direct contact with school officials and is now awaiting official incident reports. A report also has been requested from the referee involved. In addition – and as per its formal sportsmanship policy – the NJSIAA has provided initial information to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and will continue to send updates as they become available.

“Regulations regarding hair length and legal hair covers for wrestlers are provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred.

“Complaints against officials are heard first by the officials’ association, and then can be appealed to the NJSIAA Controversies Committee. As a precautionary measure, given the degree of attention being focused on this matter, the NJSIAA will recommend to chapter officials that the referee in question not be assigned to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers.”

 

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Original story continues below...

A local story is quickly gaining major national news attention: a local high school wrestling referee gave a Buena Regional High School wrestler two choices -- cut-off his dreadlocks on the spot or lose an important match.

TMZ reports the referee, Alan Maloney, who is white, would not let Andrew Johnson, who is black, wrestle while wearing a cover over his hair. The wrestler was given two choices: cut his hair or lose the match. Johnson went with the on-the-spot haircut and went on to win the match.


The incident is gaining national attention because of Maloney's apparent past. In the fall of 2016, The Courier-Post reported a group of wrestling officials who had worked at a local tournament gathered for some drinks.

During that gathering, there was an apparent disagreement about homemade wine, said Preston Hamilton, who is African American, fellow referee Alan Maloney poked his finger in his chest and hurled the epithet. Maloney told the Courier-Post he does not remember using the word at all, let alone directing it at Hamilton, but believes the accounts of witnesses who told him he said the word. Hamilton told the Courier-Post he responded by slamming Maloney, who is white, to the ground. The confrontation ended there.

The epithet referenced in the article was the N-word.

Months after the confrontation, the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association ruled it has no jurisdiction over what happened that night.

Maloney later told The Courier-Post, “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...”

The NJSIAA has reportedly not commented on the events.

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