Michael Conlan's controversial 2016 Olympic defeat was 'fixed'
Conlan called them 'fucking cheats' at the time.
Michael Conlan's excruciating defeat to Russian Vladimir Nikitin in their bantamweight quarter-final at the 2016 Olympics was widely condemned as a farce at the time.
Despite dominating the bout from the outset, the Belfast fighter lost by unanimous decision.
After being robbed of his dream, Conlan was in no mood for faux graciousness.
“They’re fucking cheats. I will never box again (under the) AIBA,” he said.
“They’re known for being cheats. Amateur boxing stinks to the core. I thought I boxed the ears off him in the first round and they scored against me. It’s a shambles. I don’t care what I am saying. I’m probably blabbering on. Today showed just how corrupt this organisation is.”
They were strong and extraordinary accusations, but ones that have been legitimised by an explosive report from Irish boxing team manager, Joe Hennigan, who claims that they were informed that certain fights had been fixed.
According to The Irish Times, Hennigan was given information about fight-fixing a day before Conlan's defeat to Nikitin, with Irish team head coach Zauri Antia telling Hennigan that the outcome was already determined.
Via the Irish Times, Hennigan writes:
“We went back to the village that evening and Zauri informed me that the Russian coach had told him that Michael Conlan’s medal was gone as were others and we would want to protect our boxers. Following this we tried on numerous occasions to see Pat Hickey to get him to intervene he was never available . . . I finally got to speak to him at an event the following day and explained the problem to him.”
— Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) March 12, 2018
Trying to raise the issue with Pat Hickey, who was president of the Olympic Council of Ireland at the time, proved an exercise in futility. However, it does make one wonder why Hickey was constantly unavailable.
Last November, the AIBA subsequently suspended all 36 judges who officiated at the games in Rio. While nothing has been officially confirmed, it's certainly an alarming insight into the perceived governance problems in amateur boxing.
Conlan has since turned professional, winning all five of his fights since making his debut on St Patrick's Day last year. He's in action again this St Patrick's Day as he takes on David Berna in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.