We continue looking at controversies by going to an incredibly obvious one, in fact the bout is one of the most famous robberies in the sports history and a bout that goes down as one of the biggest disgraces in amateur. Through this series we will look at some amateur bouts, but this is certainly the on that stands as being the worst.
Park Si Hun Vs Roy Jones Jr
We had to. The 1988 Olympic final at 156lbs is regarded as a disgusting robbery with American fighter Roy Jones Jr being robbed blind by the judges against Park Si Hun. Where many covering this bout begin the story at the 1988 Olympics, we really need to roll the clock back 4 years and look at what is essentially a prologue to the bout to fully set the scene.
At the 1984 Olympics, in Los Angeles, the South Korean team was an excellent one. They felt they had a number of gold medal contenders and were seen as one of the best teams there. In the end however it was the US who dominated the games, which didn't have the Soviet Union or Cuba attending. From the 12 divisions the US ended up winning 9 golds, a silver and a bronze. Korea on the other hand left with just 3 medals, a single gold, a silver and a bronze.
A number of those medals for the Americans came on the back of some questionable judging, with American fighters winning 36 of the 37 decisions they were involved in. As well as decisions favouring the locals a number of other decisions had gone against South Korean fighters, so much so South Korean officials pretty much accused one judge and referee of having a US bias.
Just 4 years after the LA games things went to Seoul, South Korea, and the US were again expecting big things from their team, especially with Cuba again boycotting. It was a chance to get revenge for all the issues South Korea felt had harmed them 4 years earlier.
Things didn't go their way to begin with though, and that was increasing the anger of the Koreans. They essentially forced official Keith Walker, who they had been angered by 1984, home in 1988 when he was involved in a bout involving Byun In Jung. They were also annoyed at Oh Kwang Soo losing a close decision to Michael Carbajal. They also had to wait almost 24 hours for a decision to be made regarding Anthony Hembrick, who showed up 12 minutes late for a bout with Ha Jong Ho.
One of the US' big hopes was Roy Jones Jr. An athletic freak who was just 19 years old but seen as a sensationally talented youngster. He had taken wins at a number of notable competitions, including the 1984 US National Jr Olympics, and the 1986 and 1987 National Golden Gloves. Outside of the US his success continued and he took a silver medal at the 1986 Goodwill games. He was one of their big hopes for a medal and cruised his way to the 156lb final, taking an opening round win before 3 straight 5-0 decisions.
Park Si Hun was the Korean hopeful at the weight and had come in to the Olympics as a genuine star. He had been a 2-time Asian Amateur Champion and had won a gold medal at the 1985 Boxing World Cup. To reach the Olympic final he had taken 3 clear and decisive wins, but had struggled in the quarter final against Vincenzo Nardiello, in what was regarded as a genuine controversy in it's self.
The bout was a highly anticipated one. It was a chance for local fans to see their local hero take a gold, or for the sensational American to take home the top honour. It was a chance for Korea to get one over on the national they felt had treat them badly in 1984. It was a chance for revenge.
Straight from the opening round the Korean fight looked classed, to slow, too ridged and was unable to time Jones' exceptional speed. The Korean struggled to land anything of note whilst Jones landed near enough at will. The domination of Jones grew round by round and in the end it seemed like he had done more than enough to take the decision. He had been the aggressor, he had landed significantly more punches, he had dominated and was surely about to get the gold medal.
Then he lost.
The judges some how found a way to give the bout to Hun, giving him a 3-2 split decision. A decision that simply couldn't be explained. A decision that defied belief. A decision that sent the crowd into immediate cheers, but left Hun looking confused and Jones in tears as he left the ring.
Soon after the bout the three judges who had given the bout to Hun were suspended, the result was seen as a dark point in amateur boxing, and despite the loss Roy Jones was given the Val Barker trophy by AIBA. It also lead to a change in the scoring system, using a flawed computer scoring system rather than the 20-point must system that had been in use.
In 1997 an investigation was completed. It found that the judges had been wined and dined by the organisers but that there was no evidence of any corruption regarding boxing at the Olympics.
The change in scoring sadly did little to clean up the sport, and caused numerous issues in it's self, but was a direct result of this bout.
After the bout Jones would turn professional, making his debut in 1989, and go on to be one of most talented fighters of his generation. He would have professional success from Middleweight to Heavyweight and will, eventually, be inducted into the hall of fame. As for Hun he retired from the sport, became a teacher, and then got back into the sport as a coach in the 2000's.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features