Family of wrestler forced to cut hair speaks out

- The parents of Andrew Johnson, 16, a high school wrestler form New Jersey whose dreadlocks were cut off minutes before his match after a referee told him to lose the hairstyle or forfeit, said they are "deeply moved" by the showing of support for their son.

Johnson, who is black, had a cover over his hair, but referee Alan Maloney, who is white, said that wouldn't do.

Johnson won Wednesday's match but appeared visibly distraught.

Attorney Dominic Speziali issued a statement Monday in which Johnson's parents said Maloney didn't attend the weigh-in that day.

They also say that when Maloney evaluated the teen before the match, he didn't raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.

"Andrew was visibly shaken after he and his coaches made every effort to satisfy the referee short of having his hair cut. But, as captured on video, the unyielding referee gave Andrew 90 seconds to either forfeit his match or cut his hair. Under duress but without any influence from the coaching staff or the athletic trainer, Andrew decided to have his hair cut rather than forfeit the match."

The Buena Region School District called for an emergency meeting Wednesday night to discuss 'personnel matters.'

The family said it was awaiting the results of an inquiry by the N.J. Division of Civil Rights.

With the Associated Press

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