Biles’ withdrawal attracted all the headlines, and rightly so. She is likely the greatest gymnast ever. Still, there was an absolutely maddening Olympic moment in the squared circle that, so far, has flown a bit under the radar.
This moment involves Moroccan boxer Youness Baalla, who did his best Mike Tyson impression on his opponent, New Zealand’s David Nyika.
Moroccan boxer Youness Baalla tried to bite his opponent’s ear at the Olympics
No, this is not an exaggeration.
Baalla and Nyika met early on Tuesday for a spot in the men’s heavyweight boxing quarterfinals. The bout seemed to exhibit fair play, at least until the third round.
Nyika, who appeared to be up on the scorecards, tied Baalla up in the middle of the ring. Baalla shockingly attempted to take a chunk out of Nyika’s ear, which threw the New Zealander for a loop. The referee separated the two fighters before the bout continued.
Miraculously, there wasn’t an incident for the remainder of the round or in the aftermath of the fight, though Nyika seemed miffed the referee did not appear to spot the bite attempt.
“Did you see that? I don’t think the ref saw it. She was the closest one,” Nyika said, via Reuters.
Nyika held on for a victory and heads to the Olympic quarterfinal. Baalla was disqualified after the fight as the task force in charge of running the boxing competition in Tokyo was informed of his transgression and said he “clearly intended” to bite Nyika.
Ultimately, the disqualification had little impact. Nyika won 5-0 on the scorecards. Still, it was an utterly strange moment in Olympic history.
The moment was reminiscent of Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield in 1997
Baalla’s biting attempt called to mind a certain incident between heavyweight legends Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
Tyson and Holyfield met in 1997 for the WBA Heavyweight Championship. It was the second fight between the two, with Holyfield shocking the heavily-favored Tyson in the first fight just seven months earlier.
The second fight contained no shortage of strangeness. Holyfield dominated early, adding insult to injury by accidentally headbutting Tyson. Iron Mike appeared to be fed up (he also complained about headbutts in the first fight) and opened the third round by getting Holyfield in the clinch and biting off a chunk of his ear.
Similar to the Baalla-Nyika fight, the bout shockingly continued. At least, until Tyson tried to bite Holyfield’s other ear. Tyson was disqualified, and the infamous moment was etched into the fabric of his career.
What other drama is in store at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
Baalla’s Tyson-esque moment is but the latest headline in Tokyo.
The American men’s basketball team stunned fans by losing its opener in group play. A 17-year-old swimming sensation by the name of Lydia Jacoby won the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke. Russian gymnast Artur Dalaloyan helped his team win a gold medal after tearing his Achilles. Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the first gold in her nation’s history. Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka was stunned in the third round.
Then, on Tuesday, Biles withdrew. Baalla attempted a shocking moment of his own. The Olympics are still in the early stages, but they’ve already provided an incredible sporting spectacle.