Frazer Clarke claimed a controversial victory over Mourad Aliev that ensured Great Britain will at least equal a post-War record of five Olympic boxing medals in Tokyo.
The Burton super-heavyweight narrowly lost the first round but was battling back in the second when referee Andrew Mustacchio stopped the action to disqualify the Frenchman for a headbutt.
Furious Aliev kicked his gum-shield into the empty stands at the Kokugikan Arena and remonstrated with Clarke before engaging in a sit-down protest on the ring-steps.
Clarke, who sustained a cut around his left eye, said: “I felt there was a couple of heads going in but whether it’s intentional or not I don’t know.
— GB Boxing (@gbboxing) August 1, 2021
“I’m not going to stand here and say he did it on purpose because I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted his Olympics to end in the way they have.
“I told him to calm down because I’ve been in those situations before. The last thing I want him to do is damage his reputation or be rude to the judges and officials, because they are only doing their job.”
Aliev’s protest did not seem likely to reach the dramatic extent of that of South Korean bantamweight Byun Jong-il, who sat in the centre of the ring for 67 minutes after losing a bout at the 1988 Olympics, delaying the rest of the competition for more than an hour.
This could be the first sit-down protest that includes a toilet break. Aliev nipped off for 10 minutes and has now returned. It’s the end of the session, so no-one really minds. pic.twitter.com/U8S7s7tmnj
— Mark Staniforth (@markstani1) August 1, 2021
Aliev finally moved after around half an hour, with officials having been quite happy for him to remain there since it was the last session. However, after spending 10 minutes out of the arena, he returned to resume his place.
Taking to Twitter after the bout, Clarke stressed: “The way that bout ended was out of my hands… but I will not be called a cheater or anything of the sort, I was in there doing my job.”
Aliev belatedly trudged through the mixed zone and complained that he had not received a customary warning prior to his disqualification.
Can’t believe I’m having to write this tweet … the way that bout ended was out of my hands .. it was a competitive fight for me one round each going into the last … but I will not be called a cheater or anything of the sort I was in there doing my job
— Frazer Clarke (@BigFrazeBoxer) August 1, 2021
“Normally, you get three warnings for use of the head before you are disqualified – I was disqualified on the first,” he said.
“I stayed out there to send a message to the world. This is my dream, my life, and I have worked for four years to prepare for the Olympics – and it has been taken away from me by something nobody can explain to me.”
Clarke’s win means Great Britain have guaranteed five medals at these Olympics, matching the totals from the 1956 and 2012 Games, with two more opportunities to increase that number still to come.
Earlier, Ben Whittaker edged into the men’s light-heavyweight final with a split decision verdict over Imam Khataev of the Russian Olympic Committee.
It’s some feeling securing an Olympic medal 🤩🥉absolutely over the moon to get myself on that podium but I’m not stopping yet 👊🏼– Next stop Semi-Final against Netherlands 🇳🇱 Friday 6th 06.00am UK time. –Thanks again for all your support, it’s so touching ❤️🏴🇬🇧#teamgb🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/Srg60SOiGE
— Lauren Price (@LLPrice94) August 1, 2021
The 24-year-old from Wolverhampton becomes the second British boxer to book his place in the final after Pat McCormack was given a walkover in his welterweight semi-final over Ireland’s Aidan Walsh, who was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury.
Lauren Price is already guaranteed at least a bronze medal, while Karriss Artingstall will take home bronze in the women’s featherweight division. Galal Yafai and Caroline Dubois are yet to complete their last-eight bouts.
Ireland’s Kurt Walker narrowly missed out on a guaranteed medal when he lost his featherweight quarter-final to Duke Ragan of the US on a split decision.