‘Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top’ – Conlan
Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30
Amateur boxer Michael Conlan launched a blistering attack on the entire ethos of his sport, branding the ruling body "cheating b******s" as he signalled a switch to professionalism.
Ireland's medal hope was dumped out of the Olympic Games by Russian opponent Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight boxing quarter-final.
But the event was dominated by controversy over the judging system, prompting a furious riposte from a devastated Conlan.
Fresh from the ring, the clearly furious boxer stunned television viewers with the sheer ferocity of his tirade against those in charge of the amateur code.
Conlan said: "AIBA cheats, AIBA f**king cheats. That's me, I'll never box for AIBA again, they're cheating b*****s, they're paying everybody.
"I don't give a f**k for cursing on TV. That's the end of my Olympic gold. My dream has been shattered now. I have a big career ahead of me. These ones are known for being cheats, they have always been cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top.
"I thought I boxed the ears off him in the first round, but they scored it against me. So I had to fight his fight, which I did, I outfought him. It's a shambles, to be honest."
Last night, AIBA indicated that it would be re-evaluating its judging criteria, apparently in the wake of another controversial decision - the victory of heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenko's over Vassiliy Levit.
AIBA executive board member Tom Virgets last night said he expected the sport's judging criteria to evolve before the 2020 Olympics.
"Every fight will be analysed, some with a stronger eye than others," Mr Virgets said.
Russian officials also hit back over the controversy and said the judges must be respected.
"The Russians are constantly being accused of something. Let's deal with these things in a dignified way," said Igor Kazikov, head of the Russian delegation at the Games.
But Conlan now intends to follow his brother, Jamie, into the pro ranks, saying he would not fight again under AIBA rules - even if offered €5m.
He added: "I'm gutted, from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to go back with a gold medal to Ireland. Now I feel I'm going back a loser. I'm not a loser, I'm a winner."
Later, he even directed an inflammatory tweet at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It marks the end of a torrid fortnight for Irish boxing, which began with the 'supplements' controversy. But amateur boxing and its ruling body are also in the spotlight after a series of controversial judging decisions.
All three Irish coaches were adamant that Conlan should have won the fight. Coach Eddie Bolger suggested Irish fighters have been penalised for the embarrassment caused by the Michael O'Reilly doping controversy.
"We kind of embarrassed AIBA at the start and now we're being punished for it," he said. "Katie won the fight hands down yesterday, no doubt about it, and Michael today - I thought he had won it. There's rumours in the village that there are names on the medals already."
His colleague Zaur Antia claimed judges gave Michael Conlan the second round of his Olympic bout so they could claim they weren't corrupt.
He told RTÉ: "100pc, everybody says that Katie Taylor was robbed - and everyone will tell now, I'm sure, that Mike was robbed.
"Three-nil they gave against [first round]. Second round, three-nil to Michael. They can tell now tomorrow 'we are not corrupt, we gave second round'."
The Olympic Council of Ireland stated: "While we understand and share Michael's disappointment with the decision today, the OCI does not condone his comments or conduct. We will evaluate internally before taking any action on today's events."
What he said...
"AIBA cheats, AIBA f**king cheats. That's me, I'll never box for AIBA again, they're cheating b*****ds, they're paying everybody.
I don't give a f**k for cursing on TV. "That's the end of my Olympic gold. My dream has been shattered now. I have a big career ahead of me. These ones are known for being cheats, they have always been cheats. Amateur boxing stinks, from the core right to the top.
"Katie yesterday - I don't know why she lost that fight. It was a close fight but she didn't lose. Today, I thought I boxed the ears off him in the first round, and they ruled against me. I had to fight his fight, which I did, outfought him, and they were just being a bit... It's a shambles, to be honest. I don't even care what I say now.
"I'm gutted from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to go back with a gold medal to Ireland. Now I feel like I go back a loser - I'm not a loser, I'm a winner, and today just showed how corrupt this organisation is."