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Home   /   Crossing the line in sport: Is cheating always wrong?

There has been much debate over the consequences and of the fight between Prichard Colon and Terrel Williams. Petitions have gained thousands of signatures in an attempt to punish Terrel Williams, the referee and the doctor who did not examine Colon properly.

In 2015, Prichard Colon faced Terrel Williams in a fight which lasted 9 rounds before Colon was knocked down and appeared disorderly. Throughout the 9 rounds Williams was seen blatantly striking Colon in the back of the head without any penalisation from the referee. Colon informed the referee of Williams’ actions but nothing was done in response. In the final round, Colon complained of dizziness and distortion before the game was called and Colon was disqualified. After the match had ended, Colon was vomiting and extremely incoherent. After a scan at the hospital, it was revealed he had suffered a significant brain bleed undoubtedly as a result of the hits he suffered to the back of his skull. Ultimately, the bleed needed serious medical attention and Colon was put into a coma for 221 days.

It came as a surprise to millions that Terrel Williams was not investigated and administered considerable jail time due to his deliberate actions. However, the voices of the people in defence of Prichard Colon could be seen as reactionary. While it is undoubtedly one of the greatest tragedies in boxing history, Terrel Williams is only seen as a villain due to the result of his actions. A rabbit punch in boxing is a term used to describe a punch to the back of the head. This move is particularly dangerous because it can cause fatal brain and spinal damage. Therefore, this is officially an illegal play in combat sports. Rabbit punches are more common than one would suspect in boxing and often go unnoticed by referees. On one hand, Williams portrays the villain because his actions are considered illegal and were undoubtedly deliberate. But on the other hand, he is seen as a villain because of what happened to Colon after the fight. Due to the frequency of Rabbit punches WBC urged referees to have “zero tolerance” in the face of the move. This correlates to the increasing number of boxers using this move to gain an advantage over their opponent. Therefore, is Williams guilty when a large capacity of the boxing industry is plagued by this savage form of attack? Or are boxing referees lackadaisical in enforcing the rules?

There is a fine line between what can be interpreted as poor gamesmanship and cheating. However, this line can be determined by a deeper understanding of the rules and regulations of the particular sport. We must also establish a definition for ‘wrong’ as it is a blanket term. A popular view in this context suggests that ‘wrong’ signifies immorality, dishonesty and injustice. The story of former WBC boxing world champion Prichard Colon demonstrates the significance of human error in the enforcement of rules and regulations which allowed ‘wrong’ to prevail in this instance. As of today, Prichard Colon is in a seemingly permanent vegetized state and his promising boxing career is over as his mother labelled his journey a “fight that never ends” for the family.


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