During a high school wrestling match in New Jersey, a white referee stopped a young wrestler, Andrew Johnson of Buena High School, with a particularly fucked-up demand, telling Johnson to cut off his dreadlocks before starting his match.
According to Mike Frankel of South Jersey News, referee Alan Maloney refused to let Johnson wear a cap to cover his dreadlocks as provided by state rules, and as other wrestlers with long hair have. Johnson was left with the choice of either forfeiting the match, or cutting his hair. Johnson chose the latter and a trainer took a pair of scissors to his hair.
Despite the traumatic start to his match, Johnson pulled out an overtime victory and Buena won the match.
(This, by the way, is not the "epitome of a team player", this is the epitome of racism. Johnson is visibly upset after the win and barely wants to touch the ref's hand as he's declared the winner.)
New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) rules state "an assigned official will check each wrestler for proper hair grooming, facial hair and fingernail length" for safety on the mat. However, there are also rules specifying that wrestlers are permitted to use a "legal hair cover." For whatever reason, Maloney did not afford Johnson this option.
But, again, this wasn't the first time Maloney has been accused of racism. In late March of 2016, Maloney was at a post-wrestling-tournament party with other league officials and allegedly used a racial slur in a comment about homemade wine. Another official at the party slammed Maloney to the ground for using the slur, and they were both nearly suspended for the incident, but since it happened off the clock, nothing ever came of it.
At the time, Maloney said, per NJ.com:
“It was two men, a group of guys, having fun and it was just a slip-up. If you can’t see past that, then I don’t know what to say. I made a mistake and I apologized for it. And it was accepted.”
Maloney might have gotten lucky by shrugging and sweeping this first incident under the rug, but given the national attention this story has already received, this one probably won't slip by so easily.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.