Video Of A High School Wrestler Being Forced To Cut His Dreadlocks Prompts Backlash

On Thursday, a high school athlete from New Jersey was forced to decide between forfeiting his wrestling match or cutting off his dreadlocks.

Andrew Johnson is a student and wrestler at Buena Regional High School. He wore a cover over his dreadlocks during his wrestling matches in the past, but one official decided it was unacceptable.

According to SNJ Today News Sport Director, Mike Frankel: 

“A referee wouldn’t allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks.”

The referee, now identified as Alan Maloney, gave Johnson an ultimatum.

“It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win.”

Frankel captured the haircut on camera and posted it to Twitter.

In the video, Johnson is visibly upset.

It continues to show Johnson after he beat his opponent, looking both physically and emotionally exhausted after all he had been through to win the match.

To add insult to injury, Johnson’s hair cover was not even breaking any rules.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations:

“The hair, in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back; and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level; in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows.”

The rule continues:

“If an individual has hair longer than allowed by rule, it may be braided or rolled if it is contained in a cover so that the hair rule is satisfied.”

Furthermore, the referee who ordered Johnson’s unnecessary haircut has a history of racist behavior.

According to a 2016 report by the Courier Post, referee Alan Maloney publicly used the n-word at a fellow referee during a meeting of the officials association.

“Over a disagreement about homemade wine, said Preston Hamilton, who is African American, fellow referee Alan Maloney poked his finger in his chest and hurled the epithet.” 

Maloney insisted that he had no memory of using the slur, but apologized anyway.

“You know, people do make mistakes and I apologized. I really don’t think this should go any further than it’s gone anyhow. …”

“The remark was not made to him. After he told me what I said, it was pertaining to us breaking each other’s stones. … I didn’t remember it.”

“I was told it. I believed it and said, ‘Yo, that ain’t me.’ That’s when I called him right away and that’s when he told me we were good.”

The internet is incensed about the entire situation.

Others were quick to correct Frankel’s claim that Johnson was a “team player.”

Frankel has since apologized for “miss[ing] the bigger picture” with his original caption.

On Friday, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) released a statement. They are reviewing the matter and provided information to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

NJSIAA also urged the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association to not allow Maloney to continue officiating until the investigation was complete.

Buena Regional School District said Maloney would “no longer be permitted to officiate any contests” involving their students.