Boxing-A French sit-in and Ghanaian medal in action-packed day

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Boxing – Men’s Featherweight – Quarterfinal – KKG – Kokugikan Arena – Tokyo, Japan – August 1, 2021. Samuel Takyi of Ghana in action against Ceiber Avila of Colombia REUTERS/Yara Nardi

TOKYO, Aug 1 (Reuters) – A dramatic day of action before the gold medal bouts start taking place featured a disqualification that led to a furious Frenchman refusing to budge from the ring, while Samuel Takyi secured Ghana’s first Olympic boxing medal in almost 50 years.

In the last match of the early session at Tokyo’s Kokugikan arena on Sunday, French super heavyweight Mourad Aliev was disqualified for what the referee deemed an intentional headbutt – a call he protested with an hour-long ring-side sit-in.

That was only after the Moscow-born Frenchman expressed his contempt for the decision by spitting out his mouth guard and kicking it away, flashing offensive gestures twice and shaking and punching at a TV camera.

“It’s totally unfair – I was winning the match,” Aliev told a throng of reporters after finally abandoning his ring-side spot. The first round had gone to Aliev 3-2.

His opponent, Britain’s Frazer Clarke, suffered cuts on his face and won the bout with four seconds left in the second round.

The day turned out far better for Ghanaian featherweight Samuel Takyi, who overpowered his Colombian opponent Ceiber Avila to win at least a bronze – the country’s first boxing medal in nearly 50 years. It was also the country’s first medal at the Olympics since Ghana won bronze in soccer in 1992.

“I’m going to make history and I’m going to win the gold colour,” Takyi said, his short hair dyed in a golden hue for the Tokyo Games.

As a panting Avila retreated to his corner after the final bell, 20-year-old Takyi jumped up on the ropes to salute his Ghanaian team mates in the stands, then pranced over to his corner to show off with a few push-ups.

“I want boxers in my division to see me,” he said about his youthful display. “I’m the best and I will be the best ever. I’m going to do something, I’m going to make a great history.”

Takyi will meet American Duke Ragan in the semi-finals.

Elsewhere, Filipino middleweight Eumir Marcial knocked out Armenia’s Arman Darchinyan with a right hook to cruise into the semi-finals, securing him at least a bronze medal.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Marcial said of his guaranteed medal.

“When I was young and started boxing we talked about this with my father and … I’m an Olympic medallist now,” added Marcial, who was trained by his father early on and now works with Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach in the United States.

“But I want the gold so I will do my best to give my best performance and leave the rest to God.”

In other weight categories, Britain’s Pat McCormack advanced to the men’s welterweight final by walkover after Ireland’s Aidan Walsh pulled out with an ankle injury, taking home a bronze.

In the light-heavyweight class, fellow Briton Ben Whittaker beat Russian Imam Khataev by split decision for a shot at gold.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, editing by Pritha Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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