To many millions, if not billions of people, there can be no prouder achievement than that representing your country at The Olympic Games. Therefore, on the flip side, there can be no greater disgrace than cheating or attempting to cheat, when representing your country at The Olympics. This is why Moroccan boxer Youness Baalla is currently being admonished the world over.
Baalla didn’t merely try and cheat during his bout with New Zealand’s David Nyika – he attempted to bite Nyika on the ear. Luckily for former two-time Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Nyika, he saw the attempted foul just in time and was able to pull away before Baalla could do any real damage. Yet Damage with a big D, is exactly what Baalla has done to his own reputation.
Nyika, a smart boxer with a fine jab, boxed well in the opening two rounds in the bout at the Kokugikan Arena, winning the sessions and leaving Baalla frustrated. But we didn’t know how frustrated Ballaa was until the third round when he did his “Mike Tyson impersonation,” as has been written; Baalla’s act immediately compared to the former heavyweight champion’s disgusting act in the Evander Holyfield fight of 1997 – the fight dubbed “The Bite Fight.”
Nyika, who maintained his composure and boxed to the final bell, winning by a commanding 5-0 victory, will next face Uladzislau Smiahlikau of Belarus in the quarter-finals. Nyika expressed his anger after picking up his win.
“Did you see that? I don’t think the ref saw it. She was the closest one,” Nyika said. “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’ve been bitten once on the chest before and The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But c’mon, man, this is the Olympics.”
The bite, or near-bite, the incident has already been replayed many times and is sure to be a big talking point when the Games have ended and people look back on Tokyo 2020. What makes a boxer try and bite his opponent? What makes an Olympic boxer, boxing with the whole world watching, try to commit such an atrocious foul?
It remains to be seen what punishment Baalla is given.