(Image: Getty Images)

Irish bantamweight boxer Michael Conlan hit the headlines after his controversial defeat in the Olympics quarter final in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. The world champion lost to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin. Conlan lost the first round by all judges scorecards but won the second which led to the tense final round where Niktin won by all judges scorecards. The result was widely ridiculed as many claimed it was clear that Conlan won the last round.

According to statistics from US boxing website Comubox, Conlan should have won the match. Apparently Conlan threw more punches than Nikitin – 365 as opposed to 257 and he landed 89 of these in comparison to Nikiti’s 75 [1].

The defeat brought a lot of controversy to the world governing body AIBA and the judges who decided that Conlan lost a match that everyone else thought he should have won.
Following the defeat Conlan referred to AIBA as one of the most “corrupt organisations in the world” and that he was “devastated; my olympic dream has been robbed from me”. He went on further describing the organisation as, “ F****** cheats. That’s me, I’ll never box for AIBA again, they’re cheating b*******, they’re paying everybody. I have a big career ahead of me. These ones are known for being cheats, they have always been cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top…whoever pays the most money wins.”

Conlan followed the match with a direct tweet to Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

The Reaction

The reaction online was one of outrage and support for Michael Conlan.

RTE have even made a humorous online game where you too can fight Nikitin and see if you win.

Our analysis gives the reaction to Michael Conlan’s defeat a negative Adorescore of -34. The main emotional response from the loss are loathing, grief and rage. These emotions are not surprising following the clear outrage and disappointment portrayed online.

Michael Conlon isn’t the only person to feel robbed in the boxing ring. On Monday there was outrage after another Russian, heavyweight Evgeny Tishchenkco beat Kazakstan’s Vassiliy Levit to claim gold.

The controversy surrounding cheating in the olympics is not limited to the boxing ring. There has been controversy following Team Russia’s escape from a blanket ban due to state-sponsored doping. At least 10 national anti-doping agencies including US, Germany and Japan called for a complete ban against Russia in the 2016 Olympics. Many elite athletes have also supported the ban including Team GB’s Mo Farah and Lynsey Sharp.

Following his defeat Michael Conlan has since cooled down and thanked his fans for their support by tweeting a family picture.

AIBA have since responded by saying, “Michael is the current world champion and he came here with high expectations. His disappointment is massive, we can all understand that. It’s his personal judgement. AIBA is striving for a fair, level playing field. The idea is to not benefit one country towards another. These statements are foundless but he is free to have his opinion.”

Igor Kazikov, head of the Russian delegation at the games, said, “The Russians are constantly being accused of something. Let’s deal with these things in a dignified way.”
However, since this statement AIBA dropped the officials who made the decision but claim that the results will stand.

As the results stand nothing can be done about Conlan’s defeat but whether there was cheating involved or not, the reaction online has led to many rethinking the cleanliness and reliability of the sport.