Ref who forced high school wrestler to cut dreadlocks is claiming defamation

The referee who forced the cutting of Andrew Johnson’s hair is claiming defamation. (Photo: Twitter/Mike Frankel/SNJ Today)

The referee who forced a high school wrestler to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match is now claiming that he was defamed and is owed $100,000 in damages.

Alan Maloney is the official who was involved in the infamous incident back in December, when a black athlete, Andrew Johnson, appeared humiliated as his hair fell to the floor after the ref forced him to get a ringside haircut. Now Maloney is saying that he’s the one who has been humiliated, and his reputation tarnished, as he hasn’t been allowed to ref a match since.

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In a letter to the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), obtained by TMZ, Maloney said that he was doing his job when he gave Johnson the ultimatum, because the athlete’s hair violated the rules regarding hair length. Maloney reportedly made further claims that he gave Johnson time to retrieve a hair covering, which he alleges Johnson didn’t have. Ultimately, Maloney said that providing the athlete time to cut his dreadlocks altogether was in accordance with NJSIAA policy.


Maloney hasn’t reffed a high school wrestling match since the event, and is barred from doing so while the NJSIAA conducts an investigation. The NJSIAA tells Yahoo Lifestyle that it will be reviewing “the incident and consider related issues, including the rule and its application.” But until the investigation is closed, officials cannot comment on the matter.

In the meantime, Maloney is threatening to take legal action against the association, since its alleged defamation of the ref has caused him to lose out on income and to suffer from emotional distress. Johnson’s attorney, Dominic Speziali, tells TMZ, “To the extent that [Maloney] plans to file a claim as a victim in this incident is outright absurd.”

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