A high school wrestler was forced to cut off his dreadlocks before a match, and people say it's discrimination

SNJ TodayBuena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson getting his hair cut.
  • Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson was told to decide between forfeiting a match and cutting off his dreadlocks during a meet in New Jersey on Wednesday.
  • He chose to cut off his dreadlocks and ended up winning his match.
  • But he looked visibly upset as his hair was cut, and people are saying he was discriminated against.

A referee forced a high school wrestler to choose between forfeiting his match or cutting off his dreadlocks at a meet in New Jersey on Wednesday, and people are calling the incident discrimination.

Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson was told by official Alan Maloney that he couldn’t wear a hair cover during the meet at Oakcrest High School. Maloney said Johnson needed to either cut his hair or forfeit before his 120 pound match, according to SNJ Today.

In video of the incident, Johnson looked visibly upset as an athletic trainer cuts off his dreadlocks. Johnson had to use injury time for the haircut and almost ran out of time wrestling his competitor during the match.

But Johnson, a junior, won the match in overtime, leading Buena to a season-opening victory, SNJ Today reported.

His haircut, however, sparked outrage online as people called it discrimination and said that Johnson was targeted because he is black. Some people called out the coaches for allowing the incident to happen in the first place.

Activists including Shawn King and Bernice King also spoke out against the incident.

According to New Jersey high school wrestling rules, legal hair covers should be presented at weigh-ins and checked for grooming.

The National Federation of State High School Associations says wrestlers have to wear a legal hair cover if his or her hair extends past the earlobes, the Courier Post reported.

Johnson was wearing a cap for the match, but it wasn’t attached to his headgear, which became a rule within the last couple of seasons.

“The interpretation of the rule was applied correctly,” Ron Roberts, a wrestling official of more than 20 years told the Courier Post. “The kid had to have legal head cover by rule or he’s got to cut his hair.”


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INSIDER has reached out to Buena’s athletic department and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for more information.

This isn’t the first time Maloney has faced race-related problems.

In 2016, the wrestling official used a racist slur toward another referee in an argument over homemade wine at a private gathering with other officials, according to The Courier Post.

Maloney poked referee Preston Hamilton in the chest and used the N-word as they argued. In response, Hamilton slammed Maloney to the ground.

Maloney said at the time that he did not remember making such comments, but agreed to participate in sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program.

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