Olympics-Boxing-New Zealand’s Nyika bitten but not beaten on Games debut
Newsfrom JapanSports Tokyo 2020
By Sudipto Ganguly
TOKYO (Reuters) -New Zealand boxer David Nyika did not face many problems on his way to a 5-0 victory against Youness Baalla in his Olympic heavyweight debut on Tuesday other than an attempted bite from his Moroccan opponent.
The boxing task force, which is in charge of running the Tokyo competition in place of the suspended International Boxing Association, said Baalla was disqualified after the bout for unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Nyika, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, had won the first two rounds with ease and constantly troubled Baalla with his pinpoint jabs at the Kokugikan Arena - considered the spiritual home of Japan’s sumo wrestling.
The 22-year-old Baalla lost his cool and attempted to bite his opponent’s ear during a hold in round three but a shocked Nyika managed to pull out in time.
The fight continued and Nyika, who was one of New Zealand’s flag bearers at the Games Opening Ceremony, booked a quarter-final spot against Uladzislau Smiahlikau but was surprised the referee had missed the incident.
“Did you see that? I don’t think the ref saw it. She was the closest one,” Nyika, 25, said, adding that his opponent probably tasted a lot of sweat.
“He didn’t get a full mouthful. Luckily he had his mouthguard in and I was a bit sweaty. I don’t remember what I said to him but I gave him a little bit of cheek.
“I have been bitten once on the chest before at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But c’mon man this is the Olympics.”
The Moroccan team’s spokesperson in Tokyo did not respond to a request for comment.
While Baalla’s indiscretion went missed during the fight, it came to the notice of the BTF officials once Tuesday’s first session was completed.
“The boxer ... very clearly intended to bite the ear/face of his opponent in the third round of the bout,” organisers said in a statement.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Stephen Coates and Ed Osmond)