The wrestler, Andrew Johnson, of Buena Regional High School, arrived at the Wednesday evening match against Oakcrest High School with his dreads covered, media outlets report citing SNJ Today. A referee, identified by multiple media outlets as Alan Maloney, told Johnson he could either cut his hair or forfeit, so the wrestler opted for the last-minute haircut.
In a video tweeted by SNJ today, a woman with scissors can be seen cutting Johnson's hair before the match begins.
Maloney's ultimatum to Johnson has sparked outrage online.
"this is not a feel-good story this is an athlete being humiliated before a match because his Blackness was penalized," tweeted user @britnidlc in response to the video.
"What this story illustrates, above all else, is an ongoing refusal to grant black men autonomy over their own bodies," tweeted @MilesGib.
This isn't the first time Maloney has been accused of racism. At a 2016 gathering of wrestling officials after a tournament, Maloney, who is white, allegedly used a racial slur in an argument over homemade wine in a shore condominium. Another official, Preston Hamilton, who is black, then slammed Maloney to the ground over the remark, reported NJ.com.
Maloney told the Courier-Post of Camden, New Jersey, he didn't remember using the slur.
After the incident, Maloney agreed to participate in sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program. He and Hamilton were also ordered to be suspended for one year, but both suspensions were overturned after an appeal, reported NJ.com.
So far, no school or athletic officials have responded to media requests for comment.