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H.S. wrestler forced to cut dreadlocks; viral video stirs questions of whether race was factor

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A New Jersey high school wrestler was reportedly forced to cut his hair this week before competing in a match in an incident that has stirred questions about whether race was involved in the decision.

According to SNJ Today, Buena High School wrestler Andrew Johnson, who is black, was told by a white referee that he would have to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit during Wednesday’s meet with Oakcrest High School. Johnson and his coaches initially protested the decision before the wrestler ultimately agreed to the quick haircut in a video posted by SNJ Today that has gone viral.

Johnson had intended to cover his dreadlocks with a hair cap, as is permitted by national and state rules, but was not allowed to do so, according to the report.

SNJ Today reports that the coaches tried to defend Johnson against the referee’s decision before an injury time clock was started that would have led to a forfeit. A team trainer performed the haircut on Johnson.

Johnson would win his 120-pound match with a takedown in overtime. He had previously competed in one other match this season without incident.

Based on video of the match, the referee has been identified as the same person who in 2016 offered to go through sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program after he reportedly used the N-word toward another official, according to the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post.

Read more at ESPN

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