At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, a boxing match did not go as expected. Or perhaps a more accurate explanation is that the match was fairly predictable, but the scoring outcome created an uproar. In fact, this fight ended up being one of the most controversial boxing matches in all of Olympic history.
American Roy Jones Jr. was in the light middleweight division and had danced his way through his previous Olympics bouts with impressive chops. On the other hand, Park Si-hun was the local South Korean representative. Leading up to the big bout, Park’s previous matches had been fairly lackluster.
Experts speculated an easy win for Jones, and that’s basically what happened in the ring. Jones landed 86 punches compared to his opponent’s 32, dominating the fight. Newscasters were certain the outcome would go to Jones.
The American Broadcasting Company was covering the match, including eyewitness commentators Marv Albert and Ferdie Pacheco. Albert is on record as saying, “Roy Jones severely outclassed his opponent, Park Si-hun of Korea, as we await the decision”. His co-host agreed, noting that “almost anywhere he chose to stand and give angles, he out-boxed, out-punched, out-sped and out-talented Park. Should be a no question, but you never know.”
In a final vote of 3-2, judges gave the bout to Park. The footage of the match shows that Jones obviously dominated the fight. When the winner was announced, even Park was ashamed. Park hung his head on the medal stand as the crowd cheered for Jones.
Evidence of bribery has since come to light, which would help explain the unlikely win by hometown boxer Park. Although no official charges have been leveled, Korean organizers wined and dined judges and there were reports of cash envelopes being offered.
In the end, Jones never got the medal he deserved though he remained humble and gracious about the entire turn of events. The International Olympic Committee did not overturn the judges’ decision, but they did ban two of the five judges for life.