An Olympic boxing tournament marked by U.S.-Korean conflict and bitterness turned ugly Sunday when a South Korean fighter was awarded a decision over an American fighter who seemingly dominated the bout.
The decision against U.S. light middleweight Roy Jones shocked and stunned not only the American team but other boxing judges and officials and even some of the pro-Korean crowd.U.S. coach Ken Adams charged that one of the judges had twice been offered money by a South Korean, and Jim Fox, head of the USA-American Boxing Federation, demanded an investigation.
Jones was later voted the outstanding boxer of the tournament by the executive board of the International Amateur Boxing Association, the sport's governing body.
A spokesman for the boxing venue at the Olympic Sports Complex said what Adams saw was a souvenir key chain, which was given to all boxing officials.
Yoon Dae-won said the key chains are the size of gold nuggets and could be mistaken for gold.
"We ourselves could not understand it," Yoon said. "We found out that the key chains that were being handed out look very much like gold. If you cover your finger over the Olympic mark, the color itself is exactly like gold."
Adams, however, refuted Yoon's explanation.
"No, no," Adams said. "It was a much bigger object. The guy had it in his handerchief and it was the size of your hand."
Anwar Chowdhry, president of AIBA, the boxing federation, told NBC he believed the Jones decision was unfair.
"Unfortunately, in boxing we have been having bad decisions in every international tournament," said Chowdhry, a Pakistani professor. He said he has sought to introduce "new measures" to remedy the problem but has been rebuffed by his organization's policy-setting congress.
Jones dominated from the beginning bell to the close of the final round, but Korean Park Si-hun was awarded a 3-2 decision.
"It's the worst judging in boxing since I've been in it," said Elmo Adolph, an American referee and judge who has been in amateur boxing for 24 years. "I'm extremely disappointed almost to the point of being incensed."
Jones landed left hook after left hook to the head of the Korean fighter, forcing him to take a standing 8-count in the second round. He seemed in total control of the fight, finishing it with a flurry of punches to Park's head.
But three of the five ringside judges - all from third world countries - saw it differently.
While the Hungarian and Soviet judges had Jones winning by a wide 60-56 margin, the Uruguay and Morocco judges both had Park winning 59-58. The final judge, a Ugandan, scored the fight 59-59, then awarded it to Park.
"I thought I had beaten him to a point where I couldn't get robbed," said Jones. "Unfortunately, I did."
The 19-year-old from Pensacola, Fla., was in tears after the decision was announced, but composed himself enough to meet the press and get a lingering hug from roommate Andrew Maynard, who won the gold medal at 178 pounds in the fight immediately after Jones.
The decision tempered Maynard's joy at winning the third American gold medal of the boxing competition.
"To see all that taken away from him because of a hometown favorite, I can't feel happy now," said Maynard. "My blessings go out to that young man there."