The parents of the 16-year-old black varsity wrestler who was forced to cut his dreadlocks before a match have spoken out for the first time since the incident.
Charles and Rosa Johnson, speaking through their attorney, Dominic A. Speziali, said in a Monday statement that the conduct of the referee who forced their son, Andrew, to cut his hair “appears more egregious as additional information comes to light.”
They allege that the referee was late to the meet and didn’t question their son’s hair or the need for a head covering during the initial evaluation.
The referee did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The referee later told Andrew his hair and headgear were not in compliance with league regulations, Speziali said in the statement.
Andrew told the referee he could push his hair back, Speziali said, but the referee refused because Andrew’s hair “wasn’t in its natural state.”
So he gave an ultimatum: cut the locks or forfeit the match. Andrew chose to have his hair cut rather than forfeit the match, according to a letter from the school district Superintendent David Cappuccio Jr.
Video of a trainer cutting Andrew’s hair with scissors in the middle of the gym quickly went viralon Friday after it was shared by a local reporter from South New Jersey Today.
“The referee is behind them directing her to keep cutting until he was satisfied with the length,” Speziali says in the statement.
The wrestler won the match in sudden victory in overtime, according to SNJ Today.
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