Crowd signals disapproval at Tishchenko's boxing gold

Silver medallist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan gesturing for the crowd to remain silent while Russia's national anthem played for Evgeny Tishchenko, winner of the boxing heavyweight gold on a contentious decision.
Silver medallist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan gesturing for the crowd to remain silent while Russia's national anthem played for Evgeny Tishchenko, winner of the boxing heavyweight gold on a contentious decision. PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • Boxing was at the centre of a judging controversy after Russian Evgeny Tishchenko added an Olympic heavyweight gold to his world and European titles at the expense of Kazakhstan's Vassiliy Levit.

Loud boos rang out in the crowd after the announcement the judges had surprisingly given Tishchenko the win on a unanimous points decision when most believed Levit had taken the fight.

But they reserved a ferocious cheer for Levit, 28, who wiped tears from his eyes as he accepted his silver. More boos followed when Tishchenko collected the gold medal.

A gracious Levit beckoned to the crowd to give his Russian opponent a more respectful reception. He said afterwards: "I came for gold but at the last step failed so I didn't fulfil the programme 100 per cent, but that's life.

"Every fighter that comes out of the ring deserves respect," he added, when asked why he had pleaded Tishchenko's case to the enraged crowd of 9,000.

"In my head I thought I had won and the coaches were quite happy with me and told me I did everything in the programme for the fight, but you saw how it ended."

Tishchenko, the 25-year-old with piercing eyes, said last week that his build-up to the Games had been hampered by the uncertainty caused by Russia's doping scandal, which meant he knew for sure that he would be competing only days before the opening ceremony.

And he was hardly gleeful after winning gold, quickly getting tired of questions from reporters about whether he thought he had won the bout and the jeers that greeted the decision and him.

"It is really a pity that the stands reacted like that but maybe from the side it looked different from another angle," Tishchenko said, admitting he was disappointed to get booed on the podium. "But if the judges gave me the win, they had reasons for it."

Olympic boxing has binned the old punch-counting method that threw up numerous controversies in the past and now uses judges much like the pro ranks, part of move to make the amateur fight game more attractive.

The first round saw Tishchenko struggling to impose himself on the busier Levit, who was trying to get inside the taller Russian at every opportunity to negate his longer reach.

It was more of the same in the second, with Tishchenko failing to get his jab going and Levit dictating the pace of the bout.

Rustam Tulaganov of Uzbekistan and Cuba's Erislandy Savon each took home bronze.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Crowd signals disapproval at Tishchenko's boxing gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe