Fri, September 20, 2013

Canada has long history of getting cheated in international boxing

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency


Canada's Custio Clayton leaves the ring after he defeated Australia's Cameron Hammond in their men's welterweight (69kg) during the 2012 Olympic Games. (REUTERS)


Canadians have been getting ripped off in boxing as long guys have been putting on gloves and climbing into the ring.

Remember Shawn O’Sullivan and Willie deWit at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics?

Toronto’s O’Sullivan faced Frank Tate of the U.S. in front of the largely American crowd and lost a highly controversial decision. O’Sullivan dominated for large parts of the fight and Tate even took two standing eight counts in the second (and nearly a third, which would have automatically stopped the fight). But four of the five judges gave the fight to Tate, who won 20-19.

Even the hometown fans booed the decision and Tate’s coach, the great Emanuel Steward, admitted afterward the Canadian won the fight.

At the same Olympics, Canadian heavyweight deWit fought another American, Henry Tillman, in the final and lost a controversial decision.

There have been plenty other cases of Canadians getting burned at big international meets — and a few where they were on the welcoming end of a bad decision (O’Sullivan over Frenchman Christophe Tiozzo in the semifinal of the 1984 Games) The problem is, Canada has very little influence in international amateur boxing. The sport is dominated at the amateur level by the seedy International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and the major boxing nations of the world tend to get a high percentage of close decisions — Great Britain being a major boxing nation.

As well, at any Games, you know the judges and possibly the referees are going to be influenced by the hometown crowd. There may have been a riot at the ExCel Arena Tuesday if Canadian welterweight Custio Clayton was given the victory on a count back against British fighter Freddie Evans. And there was no way AIBA was going to support Boxing Canada’s appeal that Evans should have had points deducted after he received a series of warnings during the bout.

“The poor guy had to draw the (Brit) fighter and you know they would find a way to give it to the hometown boy,” said respected Toronto boxing trainer Peter Wylie, who guided O’Sullivan during his heyday. “So surprising. Clayton, just as Shawn O’Sullivan and Willie deWit, has to grin and bear the humiliation of being screwed over by the political system that is international judging.

“I have said it in the past and I say it again, the Olympics is a total crapshoot, and I advise boxers to never expect a fair deal if you enter that arena, which of course includes any overseas international boxing. Knocking them out is the only thing that almost certainly assures you of the win.”

Knockouts, however, have been a rarity in amateur boxing, as the head gear and glove technology has made the sport increasingly safe.

As for count backs, well, no one should get to excited about those. Count backs are used when bouts end in a tie and the judges go back to the total number of punches thrown. It’s a pretty fair system and it’s been around for years. Let’s not forget that Canadian super heavyweight Simon Kean won his first bout at the London Olympics over Tony Yoka of France on one.

Still, one can’t help but be angry over Clayton’s decision, just as Canadians can’t help but be bitter over the disqualification of equestrian Tiffany Foster earlier in the Games and the referee’s decision in women’s soccer that doomed the Canadian women’s side against the U.S.

Canada is the second largest nation in the world in size, but a pipsqueak in international amateur sport — outside of most winter events.

As Wylie noted, we have to grin and bear it.

“The Olympic circus has begun,” he said.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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