French boxer sits on ring apron in protest after DQ loss

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TOKYO (AP) — A French super heavyweight boxer sat on the Olympic ring apron in protest after he was disqualified from his quarterfinal bout because of an intentional head butt.

Mourad Aliev reacted with outrage when referee Andy Mustacchio disqualified him with four seconds left in the second round Sunday. The referee determined Aliev had intentionally used his head to clash with British opponent Frazer Clarke, who had significant cuts near both of his eyes.

After the verdict was announced, Aliev sat down on the canvas just outside the ropes and above the steps leading down to the arena floor. He remained there unmoving, and French team officials came up to speak with him and brought him water.

After more than 30 minutes, boxing officials emerged and spoke with Aliev and the French team. Aliev left the apron and everyone went inside the Kokugikan Arena — but about 15 minutes later, he returned to the arena and resumed his protest in the same spot.

Aliev protested vocally and emphatically immediately after the bout, yelling to the mostly empty arena: “Everyone knows I won!” He also refused Clarke's attempts to calm him. Aliev won the first round on three of the five judges' scorecards in what was a close fight.

Aliev's bout with Clarke was the final fight of the afternoon session, which meant the next bout wasn't scheduled for more than three hours at the Kokugikan Arena.

Aliev and Clarke were engaged in close fighting throughout their two rounds, and Aliev did appear to lean into his punches zealously. Clarke, who clinched a medal with the win, thought the decision was fair.

“I felt there was a couple of heads going in there,” Clarke said. “Whether it was intentional or not, that's not for me to say. ... I told (Aliev afterward) to calm down. You're not thinking with your head. You're thinking with your heart. I know it's hard, but the best thing to do is go back to the changing room.”

Olympic boxing's most famous protest against a judging decision occurred in 1988 in Seoul, when South Korean bantamweight Byun Jung-il refused to leave the ring after being penalized two points for using his head illegally. Byun stayed in the ring for over an hour, and Seoul officials eventually turned out the lights.

The Tokyo Olympic boxing tournament is being run by a special task force instead of the International Boxing Association, which was suspended by the IOC in 2019.

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