Alan Maloney, the New Jersey high school wrestling coach who made a black teen cut off his dreadlocks before a match, says he’s a victim of defamation and is threatening to sue New Jersey officials for $100,000, TMZ is reporting.
Back in December 2018, as reported at the time by The Inquisitr, high school wrestler Andrew Johnson, who is black, was preparing for his match when he was approached by Maloney. Maloney told Johnson that Johnson wouldn’t be able to compete in his dreadlocks and that he would have to cut his dreadlocks off or forfeit the match. Johnson had wrestled previously in his dreadlocks without incident.
Not wanting to forfeit, Johnson agreed to get his dreadlocks cut. In what was described as a solemn scene, Johnson hung his head while a pair of scissors was produced and someone trimmed his locks. His teammates could be seen coming to his side to offer their support.
Soon, the narrative that began appearing in the media was that Maloney’s actions that day did not come from a place of adherence to the rules, but out of racism. And people familiar with Maloney seemed to offer evidence for that assertion — specifically, that they had overheard Maloney using racist slurs in the past.
Official Alan Maloney, who told a wrestler he had to cut his dreadlocks in order to fight, is threatening to take legal action.
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) March 19, 2019
Not long afterward, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) relieved Maloney of his refereeing duties.
This month, Maloney took the first steps in setting up a lawsuit, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Specifically, he sent a “notice of tort claims” to at least 12 individuals and entities. A “notice of tort claim,” according to The World Link, is simply an indication that someone thinks they have been wronged and has a reason to file suit. It is not, specifically, a lawsuit, and the notifier isn’t required to prove their case.
In his notices, Maloney claims that he is a victim of defamation and that the entire incident has cost him $100,000 in damages.
“Mr. Maloney properly performed his duties as the referee and fairly applied the rules governing a wrestling match.”
Dominic Speziali, the lawyer representing Johnson and his family, disputes Maloney’s notion that Johnson’s hair was outside of regulations that day. He says that Maloney simply “singled out” Johnson.
With regard to the claim that Maloney is the victim in this case, Speziali isn’t having it.
“I think he’s just covering his bases. To the extent that he plans to file a claim as a victim in this incident is outright absurd.”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, when or even if Maloney will file a lawsuit.