Script snub: Wrestler rejects $300K bribe for loss

MILAN — Two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Frank Chamizo said he turned down a bribe of $300,000 to deliberately lose a match at last week’s European wrestling Olympic qualification tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Chamizo, who competes for Italy after emigrating from Cuba in 2011, controversially lost the semifinal match to Azerbaijani freestyle wrestler Turan Bayramov following 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 said in remarks to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “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 refused “because I don’t only represent myself, but also Italy. … It’s not easy to break my integrity.”

He had used that last phrase in an Instagram post after also putting a video of the controversial finish on social media.

Chamizo wrote on the post of the video: “I want to apologize to those who are looking at this, my sport is beautiful. This is just a group of bribed and corrupt people. How sad. My heart is crying.”

At the end of the semifinal, with the scores tied at 8-8, Chamizo scored the two points that would have seen him win the match and qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. The judges had awarded him the points, but a challenge from Bayramov’s coach was upheld.

“I’m still shocked. Sad, in pain, full of shame for what happened,” Chamizo told La Repubblica. “The five judges made the same decision, recognizing that I put my opponent’s right knee on the ground, so I won.”

Chamizo grew up in Cuba and won bronze at the 2010 world championships for the country before moving to Italy the following year. He won gold at the 2015 and 2017 world championships and silver two years later as well as bronze at the 2016 Olympics. Chamizo is also a four-time European champion.

Chamizo, 31, has another chance to qualify for the Paris Games in next month’s world qualification tournament in Turkey.

“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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