"Amateur boxing is corrupt to its core," declared Michael Conlan in an apocalyptically enraged interview with RTÉ shortly after his defeat to Vladimir Nikitin at the 2016 Olympics. He was far from the only one to have that thought at the time.
The Belfast boxer controversially lost to Russian Vladimir Nikitin in the bantamweight quarter-finals in Rio. The BBC's Richie Woodhall declared himself "speechless" that Conlan had lost by decision to an opponent he clearly out-boxed.
The Irish Times reports today that an Irish Athletic Boxing Association report claims that Conlan had legitimate reason to feel aggrieved.
Johnny Waterson of the Irish Times has viewed a report by IABA vice-president Joe Hennigan, who was Irish boxing manager at that Olympic Games, which states that Irish management were told in Rio that fights at the games had been fixed.
Irish head coach Zaur Antia was told by a Russian coach a day before the fight on August 16th that Conlan stood no chance of winning.
"We went back to the village that evening and Zauri informed me that the Russian coach had told him that Michael Conlan’s medal was gone as were others and we would want to protect our boxers," says Hennigan in the report.
He then attempted to locate OCI president at the time, Pat Hickey.
"Following this we tried on numerous occasions to see Pat Hickey to get him to intervene he was never available . . . I finally got to speak to him at an event the following day and explained the problem to him."
The report also references Katie Taylor's defeat to Finland's Mira Potkonen a day before Conlan, along with Joe Ward's loss to Carlos Andres Mina of Ecuador.
"It was sickening to think we definitely lost two contests [Conlan and Taylor] because of corruption and you would argue Joe Ward’s one as well with bad refereeing."
Michael Conlan and Katie Taylor have since left amateur boxing far behind them with both having instantaneous success in their pro careers.
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