Fidel Castro has defended Angel Matos, the Cuban Taekwondo athlete who kicked a referee in the head at the Beijing Olympics. Castro feels that Matos was right to be indignant over his disqualification during the bronze medal match.
Olympic officials want Matos and his coach banned from the sport for life for his controversial actions after he was eliminated from the tournament. But Castro has declared his "total solidarity" for his fellow countrymen.
Matos was actually winning 3-2 in the second round when he fell to the mat after being caught with a blow from his Kazakhstan opponent. He was then disqualified when he took more than the one minute he was allocated to recover from an injury.
Matos questioned the call immediately, angrily pushing the judge before turning his attentions to the referee who disqualified him. The referee, Chakir Chelbat from Sweden needed medical attention after the altercation, requiring stitches in a split lip. Matos walked off spitting on the ring in disgust.
His behavior has been described as disgraceful by officials, and Matos' counter claims that the match was fixed have fallen on deaf ears. Matos coach then waded in defending his protege, adding that the Kazakh's also tried to bribe them. These claims have also been unfounded.
Fidel feels that the bribery attempt gave his athletes good reason to expect biased judging. Castro added that Cuban boxers were also cheated in their semi-final bouts during the Olympics.
Castro then said: "Our fighters had hopes of winning, despite the judges. But it was useless, they were condemned beforehand."
Judging in many of the contact sports during the Olympics, especially boxing, has been called into question in many corners.
Two Irish boxers complained bitterly of their treatment at the hands of the judges when facing Chinese boxers. Light heavyweight Ken Egan who won the silver, was beaten 11-7 in the final by a Chinese boxer. Egan only conceded five points through four bouts on the way to the final.
Fellow Irishman Paddy Barnes was beaten an incredible 15-0, and while Irish officials did not feel he won the fight they felt the young boxer should have lost by a score of 12-6. And the fact he went four rounds without landing a punch show that something was wrong with the judging system.
So maybe Castro has a point. China and Kazakhstan recently announced a massive oil deal...but fixing doesn't happen in sports...does it?