Three South Korean boxing officials and two aides were thrown out of their own Olympics Thursday for attacking a New Zealand referee who they said robbed one of their fighters of victory.
An assistant coach, the trainer, a boxing official and two Olympic helpers were suspended for storming the ring earlier in the day and punching and kicking referee Keith Walker, who assessed two possibly pivotal penalty points against Korean bantamweight Byun Jong-il.The International Amateur Boxing Association announced the disqualifications and also rejected a Korean protest to take the victory away from Alexandar Hristov of Bulgaria.
"We are very sorry about what happened this morning," said AIBA president Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan. "AIBA has no excuse to offer. It was the most disgraceful incident I have ever seen in boxing, and I have no words to defend it."
Chowdhry said he discussed the incident with International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch and with officials of the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee and received asssurances that it would not be repeated. "It was with these assurances that the competition was allowed to resume tonight," Chowdhry said.
AIBA initially said a Korean referee-judge was suspended, but the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee later listed the five as a coach, a trainer, a member of the Korean Boxing Federation executive board and two SLOOC operations personnel. Contrary to reports on NBC-TV at the time, no security personnel were involved, the organizers said.
No action was taken against the team's head coach.
Byun was also suspended indefinitely from international competition for staging a bizarre, 67-minute sit-in in the ring to protest the decision.
The Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee apologized for the "disgraceful behavior," said security would be tightened and vowed that "no irregular incidents will occur again."
Scores of South Koreans angered by the refereeing called the New Zealand Embassy and some shouted obscenities about Walker.
"We're again robbed of our victory in our own hometown!" shouted one fan at Chamshil Students' Gymnasium as Byun's loss triggered the wild melee that took dozens of police to bring under control.
The Korean coaches threw several punches at Walker, hitting him at least once despite efforts by fellow referees to shield him in a corner.
"They were kicking and punching and pulling my hair out," Walker said at Kimpo Airport as he left to return to New Zealand. "I was punched in the back by the Korean coach."
Several other Koreans _ including the Olympic helper _ also jumped into the ring and tried to attack Walker, while the team manager stood on the ring apron urging the largely Korean crowd to join the fracas. Two chairs and a water bottle were thrown into the ring.
It took police several minutes to respond to the battle and several more minutes to form a protective barrier around Walker. He did not appear hurt as he was escorted from the gymnasium by 10 policemen, and he left the country later in the day.
"I suggested I leave the country," Walker said when asked whose idea it was. "It was a complete disaster in respect to the crowd reaction."
The fracas overshadowed a fine opening performance by American Kennedy McKinney, who knocked out Erick-Giovnni Perez of Guatemala in the opening fight of the day.
McKinney, a bantamweight, knocked Perez to the canvas with a big right hand only seconds into the fight, then floored him with another right midway through the round. Perez was still on the canvas when the fight ended at 1:31 of the first round.