Clarkes Olympics win overshadowed by opponent protest and refusal to leave
FRAZER CLARKE'S route to a super-heavyweight medal was overwhelmed by the French crying “sabotage” and a monumental sit-down protest for the ages.
Disqualified for excessive use of the head, Clarke's incandescent opponent Mourad Aliev refused to leave the Kokugikan Arena for more than an hour after his controversial defeat.
As boxing unfurled a masterpiece of petulance in the spiritual home of sumo wrestling, Aliev's refusal to vacate the premises was a throwback to South Korea's Byun Jong-Il picketing the ring for 67 minutes over a perceived injustice 33 years ago in Seoul.
The bare facts of the contest are that Aliev, born in Moscow but representing France in the blue riband division, was expelled from Tokyo 2020 four seconds from the end of round two.
Commonwealth super-heavyweight champion Clarke, cut above both eyes, is now guaranteed at least a bronze medal after reaching the semi-finals, where he faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalalov.
In a division where Team GB enjoyed gold medal success through Audley Harrison and Anthony Joshua since 2000, his advance reflects only credit on root-and-branch British amateur boxing.
And it means Great Britain will equal, at the very least, the five boxing medals they won at London 2012, their best Olympic haul for a century.
But don't let the facts get in the way of good old-fashioned bust-up.
When American referee Andrew Mustacchio stepped in to curtail the contest, Aliev literally spat out his dummy – well, his mouthguard – and kicked it angrily across the ring.
Then he gesticulated manically into a TV camera, giving the lens a token jab, before launching into his sit-in.
And when he was finally persuaded to evacuate the arena, more than an hour later, Aliev had not calmed down noticeably.
He fumed: "I stayed out there (on the apron) to send a message to the world. This is my dream, my life, and I have worked for four years to prepare for the Olympics – and it has been taken away from me by something nobody can explain to me.
"You have to accept the referee's decision but it helps if you understand it first.
"Normally, you get three warnings for use of the head before you are disqualified – I was disqualified on the first.
"It's totally unfair – I was winning the fight. I was stopped without any warning and they just told me, 'You lost' – just like that. So I think it was an act of sabotage.
"I prepared my whole life for this event, so getting mad for something like that is natural.”
He also claimed tournament supervisors had admitted the disqualification was wrong, adding: “That is of no use to me now. It's too late.”
Although Aliev was happy to use the rutting-stag approach to close-range grappling, and Clarke's gashes did not appear by magic, there did not appear to be any single instance where he was guilty of putting the 'nut' on his opponent.
But 29-year-old Clarke, from Burton-upon-Trent, said: “I told him not to ruin his reputation. He is a good man, and I believe he will be a champion one day.
“I felt there was a couple of heads going in there, if I am honest. Whether it is intentional or not, I don’t know.
“When orthodox boxes a southpaw, it often happens. I am not going to stand here and say he did it on purpose because I am sure he wouldn’t have wanted to finish the Olympics the way it has.
“But the referee has done his job, I was in there to do mine.
“I told him to calm down at the end. I have been in these situations myself – often you are not thinking with your head, you're thinking with your heart and your emotions are all over the place.
“The last thing I would want him to do is damage his reputation or be rude to the judges and officials. He is a good fighter and they are only doing their job.
“I know it is hard, I know he is angry at the time, I have been there before. The best thing to do is calm down and go back to the training rooms and be angry with someone else.
“This sport is all about respect. I am sure he will be angry with himself for the way he is acting now.
“I can't stand here and accuse him of using his head deliberately, but we have a great team of referees and officials out here and you have to respect them and believe in what they do.
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“I fought Mourad six weeks ago and lost – but I beat him twice before that, so it was always going to be a tight contest.
“My advice to him would be to get out of that ring and don't do anything he will regret later.
“In the heat of the moment, it was all a bit confusing – obviously the referee stopped the fight deeming the French guy used his head, but during the battle it all happens very quick.
“The referee made his decision, that is what he is there to do.
“I have a great respect for Mourad the French national team as a whole, and there is no animosity between us. Once he calms down, I will go and shake his hand and wish him all the best for the future.”
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