Referee Who Cut Teen's Dreadlocks Before Wrestling Match Claims 'Emotional Distress': Report

The teen was visibly distressed in the video.
SNJ Today

Andrew Johnson was visibly distressed in a video of the moment.

A New Jersey referee who was suspended pending investigations after he gave a black teenager what many called a racist ultimatum during a high school wrestling match claims he has been suffering “emotional distress” since the incident. 

Andrew Johnson, a wrestler at Buena Regional High School, was reportedly wearing a cover over his dreadlocks when referee, Alan Maloney, told him he had to cut his dreads on the spot or forfeit the match in December, according to SNJ Today.

Johnson was visibly distressed in a video of the moment and Maloney came under fire after the footage went viral. Johnson went on to win the match.

Maloney has since been suspended from officiating varsity competitions, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, pending the outcome of multiple investigations into the incident.

This month, Maloney reportedly filed a legal claim notice against 12 defendants, including the Buena Vista School District, alleging he suffered $100,000 in damages, according to the paper.

The referee said Johnson did not have a legally sanctioned head cover during the match and he gave him time to correct it. 

Wrestlers are allowed to have dreads, so long as they wear a covering that is "snug" to the person in question's body, according to National Federation of State High School Associations. Johnson was wearing a cover, but it's not clear how snugly fit it was.  

“Mr. Maloney properly performed his duties as the referee and fairly applied the rules governing a wrestling match,” the notice reads, according to the Inquirer. 

It's Maloney's first public remarks on the incident. He has not responded to's request for comment.

Johnson’s attorney, Dominic Speziali, called the notice outrageous.

“To the extent referee Alan Maloney plans to ever file a claim as a victim in this incident is outright absurd,” Speziali told the Daily News.

In 2016, Maloney was also accused of calling another black referee the N-word and a fight ensued. Both referees were temporarily suspended, the Courier Post reported. Maloney later apologized.