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Monday, May 27, 2024

Wrestler Says He Was Offered $300K to Throw Match, Calls Judges ‘Corrupt’

  • The Olympic medalist, who was born in Cuba, competes for Italy.
  • He can still qualify for the Paris Olympics at a tournament in Turkey next month.
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Chamizo, a two-time wrestling world champion and Olympic bronze medalist, claimed he turned down a bribe of $300,000 to throw a match at last week’s European Olympic qualifying tournament in Azerbaijan. 

The Cuban immigrant, who wrestles for Italy, lost a controversial semifinal match to Azerbaijan freestyler Turan Bayramov partially due to a disputed late call. 

“I knew that I had to give double, triple in Azerbaijan, because I was fighting in their country and they had bought everyone,” Chamizo claimed in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which was picked up by the Associated Press. “I did it but then something happened that has echoes of wrestling many years ago.

“So I want to say it, they came to me and offered me $300,000 to lose. I don’t want to say who but it happened on the morning of the weigh-in.”

Chamizo said he turned down the bribe “because I don’t only represent myself, but also Italy. … It’s not easy to break my integrity.”

The call in question happened at the end of the semifinal match with the score tied at eight. Chamizo scored two points that would have sealed the match and his trip to the Paris Olympics. He was awarded the points, only to have them taken away after a challenge from Bayramov’s coach was upheld. 

Chamizo, who medaled at the 2016 Olympics, still has a chance to compete in Paris as there is another qualifying tournament in Turkey next month. The 31-year-old doesn’t think his comments impact his odds there. 

“Am I worried about paying for these comments there? I come from Cuba; I’m not scared of anything,” Chamizo said. “Now I am in a free country. I can say what I think and what I want. No one will stop me.”

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