‘Deeply disturbed’: Gov. Murphy responds after high school wrestler told to cut dreadlocks

Posted: Updated:

Gov. Phil Murphy is responding to the controversy surrounding a Buena Regional High School wrestler who had his dreadlocks cut off minutes before his match after a referee told him to lose the hairstyle or forfeit his bout.

Video surfaced of wrestler Andrew Johnson getting his hair cut court-side.

He went on to win Wednesday's match, but appeared visibly distraught.

Johnson, who is black, had a cover over his hair, but referee Alan Maloney, who is white, said that wouldn't do.

The governor said on Twitter, “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. No student should have to needlessly choose between his or her identity & playing sports."

 The state's Interscholastic Athletic Association says it is recommending Maloney not be assigned to any event until the matter has been reviewed more thoroughly.

They say they have contacted the state Division on Civil Rights.

A woman answering the phone at a listed number for Maloney says the ordeal is being blown out of proportion.

AP wire services helped contribute to this report.

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