Parents of Andrew Johnson, the Buena Regional High School wrestler forced to cut his locs during a match last week, have spoken out about the incident that incited outrage throughout the web.
In a controversial viral video, referee Alan Maloney told Johnson he would have to forfeit a match, claiming his hair and head covering wouldn’t allow for a fair game. According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, the family released a statement addressing the referee's decision.
"Andrew was visibly shaken after he and his coaches made every effort to satisfy the referee short of having his hair cut," his parents, Charles and Rosa Johnson, said. "But, as captured on video, the unyielding referee gave Andrew 90 seconds to either forfeit his match or cut his hair. Under duress but without any influence from the coaching staff or the athletic trainer, Andrew decided to have his hair cut rather than forfeit the match."
Fox 61 reports the family's attorney, Dominic A. Speziali, believes the blame rests in the hands of Maloney, who never addressed Johnson's hair during previous matches. The teen's parents said although the incident taught their son resiliency, they plan to do everything they can to make sure this does not happen to someone else's child.
“Wrestling has taught Andrew to be resilient in the face of adversity," the couple continued. "As we move forward, we are comforted by both the strength of Andrew’s character and the support he’s received from the community. We will do all that we can to make sure that no student-athlete is forced to endure what Andrew experienced.”
What made Maloney’s behavior all the more disturbing was his history of using racial slurs. In 2016, the referee was disciplined for calling a Black colleague a “n****r.”
Authorities are currently investigating the incident.
Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.
Now, check these out: