Wrestler who was told by referee to cut dreadlocks or forfeit receives widespread support

On Wednesday, a white high school wrestling referee in New Jersey made a black wrestler choose between cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting his match. The wrestler, Andrew Johnson, had his dreadlocks cut.

Saturday morning, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, along with many others on social media, were sharing their thoughts about the incident and sending messages of support to Johnson.

“Deeply disturbed that Andrew Johnson, a student at Buena Regional H.S., was forced to choose between keeping his dreadlocks and competing in a wrestling tournament,” Murphy wrote from his handle, @GovMurphy. “No student should have to needlessly choose between his or her identity & playing sports.”

Johnson, of Buena (N.J.) Regional High School, had his dreadlocks covered before his match at 120 pounds against Oakcrest High (Mays Landing, N.J.) athlete David Flippen. According to SNJToday video, referee Alan Maloney told Johnson he could either cut his hair or forfeit the match. Johnson chose the former.

SJN News Today sports director Mike Frankel expanded on the situation in a Friday tweet, adding that Johnson's coaches argued about the ref's ultimatum for several minutes, "until the referee started the injury time clock. At this point, the wrestler removed the cap, and agreed to have his hair cut.”

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