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Buena, N.J. – A lawyer for a high school wrestler whose dreadlocks were cut off minutes before his match after a referee told him to lose the hairstyle or forfeit is suggesting the impromptu hair cut was due in part to the referee’s tardiness.

Andrew Johnson, who is black, had a cover over his hair, but referee Alan Maloney , who is white, said that wouldn’t do. Johnson won Wednesday’s match but appeared visibly distraught.

The Press of Atlantic City reports Dominic Speziali issued a statement Monday in which Andrew Johnson’s parents said Maloney didn’t attend the weigh-in that day. They also say that when Maloney evaluated the teen before the match, he didn’t raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.

Maloney didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.

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