By Paul Topliff ►
This is the full publication by the Derby Telegraph | 16th November 2018:
Sandy Ryan’s World Boxing Championships dream has ended at the first hurdle in India.
Derby’s Commonwealth Games gold medallist was beaten on a split decision in her first bout by Angela Carini of Italy.
After a tight three-round fight in which many observers thought she had done enough, Ryan was given the decision 29-28 by two of the five judges, Japan’s Yasutaka Sasaki and Uganda’s Antonio Stephen Aciga-Fula. But James Beckles (Trinidad & Tobago) and Nagy Ismail (Egypt) scored it 29-28 the other way and Tsogtgerel Tserenkhand of Mongolia tipped the balance by giving it Carini by 30-27.
Ryan outpointed Carini unanimously when the pair met in the Strandja tournament in Bulgaria, in February, but it was not to be this time. Her brother, former Commonwealth Champion Dave Ryan, tweeted: “So heartbroken for Sandy.
"Boxed good enough to get the nod but just didn’t happen this time.” Now Ryan is left to pick herself up and look ahead to what she regards as her ultimate target as an amateur boxer, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo."
A very courteous report by the Derby Telegraph whom I have to say have been incredibly supportive of Sandy, and this is in no way intended to be a reflection upon their reporting whatsoever. Secondly I wish to point out that this article contains my own thoughts and not those of Sandy unless otherwise stated or in speech quotations.
So what of that single bout in India in November? Well firstly it could be detected by the many updates and posts on social media that our girl was in tip-top shape and feeling extremely happy with the way her preparation and build-up had gone. It was there for all to see. Sandy had published mini-vids, images and comments about how excited and determined she felt, and how her only aim was to bring back gold to her beloved Derby; the City she was raised in. She entered the arena that day looking like she was 100% prepared and eager to step on to the hallowed canvas. Listening to both commentators as I watched live it was noticeable that on several occasions they remarked about how miffed and confused they were regarding the judges decisions in certain quarters, and I have to agree on that. It would be so easy to run headlong into a Facebook style argument on this with feelings running high, keyboard warrior style, but that gets you nowhere nearer to understanding what happened here, and indeed what appears to be happening on an all too frequent basis globally. No point in leaving the result until the end here, Sandy lost on points end of. But let's take a look at the whys and wherefores, as there really does appear to be a little more than meets the eye to consider here.
It's interesting to note that the only real in-depth media reporting on any controversy appear to be from the Indian press, other than ESPN. To be fair though the standard of Indian reporting does actually apply a fair balance to it I have to say. In recent years India have achieved very low numbers in the medal stakes, so during the course of the Championships taking place in India, it came as a surprise by many to see that India suddenly had 8 pugilists reaching the quarter finals in various weight divisions, though it was certainly no surprise to me. Some may cry 'fix' or 'bias' on that, but without proof how can one determine anything? I'd also like to point out that the exceptional Mary Kom of India, in the 45-48kg category gave a marvelous exhibition in lifting her 6th world title to join the pantheon of greats in this sport. As previously stated the commentators remarked on more than one occasion that there appeared something unusual or odd in certain judges decision making. Nothing appears to have been taken up by the media regarding those early tournament bouts though. Enough was reported nevertheless about Bulgaria's Stanimira Petrova, who immediately upon the decision going against her in a bout against India's Sonia Chahal stated to the press "it's corruption by judges, not a fair result", before walking off in disgust, followed by her Chief Coach Petar Yosifov Lesov (a former Olympic gold medalist), throwing a water bottle to the ring canvas angrily while gesturing to the crowd. Both Lesov and Petrova immediately had their accreditation cancelled until further notice for their outbursts.
As the Hindustan Times stated, AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association), the governing body adopt a zero tolerance policy to any criticism toward refereeing or results in any way, and have also removed any facility to protest or appeal. Even I'll openly call dictatorship on that one, as if there's something to hide maybe?
Let's look at Sandy's bout against Italy's Angela Carini now:
Sandy threw 5 tags to the face, and 5 body shots.
Carini threw 2 tags to the face, and complained twice about holding, while moving backwards throughout the round.
Sandy threw 6 tags to the face and 4 body shots.
Carini threw 2 tags to the face and 1 body shot, and complained of holding while holding herself.
Sandy threw 2 tags to the face and 1 body shot. On the bell Sandy tagged the face which was discounted.
Carini threw 3 tags to the face. Received a warning for holding, and bowed to acknowledge.
The referee also separated both fighters and pointed to the head as the reason.
Now forgive me for suggesting that something appears to be very wrong here wont you? How on earth can any judge score in favour of Carini by a full 3 points with factual stats like that? Evidence that AIBA talk about can be see in the YouTube video posted on this sites 'Videos' tab. Scroll through to 3 hours to view the whole bout. It lasts a full 14m 47s to be precise. I'm no official judge but even I can see that something's amiss. See for yourselves. This is not spilt-milk or sour grapes we're talking about here. The milk and grapes are fresh and ripe I assure you. It's rather a deep matter for concern. It smacks you square in the face when you watch it! Sandy of course ever the diplomat is not prepared to comment on any point of controversy. Quite right too as we are fully aware of what happens when anyone does. What she did say though was "That was a bad performance didn’t perform on the day was too flat footed." That's why we love you Sandy: magnanimous in defeat.
It's not the first time that AIBA have been under the microscope courting controversy either. The Indian Express reports:
"Increased subjectivity in the science of boxing has resulted in unsure spectators, boxers, coaches and, apparently, judges. In such unsure times, ‘home boxers will win unless knocked out’ often becomes an unwritten rule. Amidst snide remarks came a suggestion from a Team Germany analyst: “It could never be a hundred per cent foolproof, but the ‘robberies’ have become increasingly common because there’s so much room for interpretation. Why can’t we show the judges’ scoring in between the rounds, so that the boxer knows what he needs to do and adapt?” That may be too radical for AIBA, but the word on the grapevine is that the body is looking to introduce video referrals to solve such situations."
Maybe AIBA should listen to this far more closely from a balanced point of view from both sides, especially the IOC, when their Executive Director Tom Virgets (referring to the case of Petrova) states:
"She has shown inappropriate behaviour at the conclusion of her event. Her actions are reflective of her coach who disrespects and tries to damage the credibility of the sport. We must change the culture of our coaches and athletes who have been taught that it is acceptable to yell corruption 'without providing evidence', every time they lose a bout. Our coaches and athletes must develop the habits of good sportsmanship. The AIBA does not tolerate in any circumstances such behaviour against the AIBA values and AIBA Code of Conduct. AIBA has recently put into place many safeguards to ensure fairness within the competition and I am very pleased with the results."
But with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) cranking up the pressure on amateur boxing and threatening its place at Tokyo 2020, next year, they must know that reforms are their life-blood: literally. After all, the sport’s governance is one of the many axes the IOC has to grind after the judging scandal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which all 36 officials and referees were suspended with fixing allegations being investigated.
Other fighters remarked on their fights too. Another aggrieved world champion was Dina Zholaman who sat sulking in the stands after losing an “unfair” unanimous verdict to Manisha Moun. The Kazakh, who had to plan an impromptu trip to the Taj Mahal with her family to clear her mind, said:
“knew something like this might happen. The judges’ score wasn’t objective. Of course I understand that the competition is in India, but that it is not right to waste somebody's years of training."
Nothing though can compete with Michael Conlan following his Olympic defeat in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro which prompted his outburst of “Yeah, AIBA are cheats. They’re f***ing cheats.” One of the main reasons amateur boxing is under threat as a competing Olympic entity is the controversy surrounding judging at major tournaments. While I don't believe for one second that there would be any expulsion by Tokyo 2020, AIBA have to act and act quick, despite the IOC demanding they act now or face expulsion. The Conlan outburst became the catalyst for the then AIBA administration to launch an inquiry and admit certain lapses. but if they continue their current calamitous path, I fear we may well see the last of AIBA participation come Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. That said, following the IOC's findings and stipulations for boxing to compete as an Olympic sport, AIBA have hinted that reform is already underway in that athletes themselves will be able to contend a result and/or reasoning behind that result. That in itself would be a very good start, and not before time it must be said. A sport in the truest sense of the word that AIBAs Executive Director Tom Virgets spoke about when he alluded to 'sportsmanship' (in a sport where women compete Tom), would not be sporting at all without clarity, balance, and openness there to be seen by all. My suggestion, as with a good few others I've heard state is a case for disclosure of points awarded between each round, which would go along way to appeasing the IOC I'm sure.
In conclusion, my thoughts are that it's not Sandy who was caught flat footed, but rather AIBA, or to be more precise Tom Virgets!