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Youth wrestler charges with assault over post-match sucker punch

By Ben Marquis
|
April 21, 2023

An incident at a youth wrestling competition earlier this month went viral on social media as one competitor sucker-punched the other following an embarrassing loss.

The young wrestler who threw the unexpected punch, 14-year-old Hafid Alicea, has reportedly now been cited for assault, according to the Daily Mail.

That citation was not entirely unanticipated, as the parents of the wrestler on the receiving end of the sucker punch, Cooper Corder, had signaled their intention to press charges over the incident.

Citation for assault

TMZ Sports reported on Thursday that it learned from a source within the Oak Park Police Department in Illinois that a citation for assault had been issued against Alicea after he admitted to officers that he threw the punch because "he was angry that he had lost the match."

The police noted that all parties involved had fully cooperated with the investigation and that Corder had ultimately suffered little more than a bloody nose from the punch and had declined additional medical treatment.

Given that he is a minor, an adjudication hearing will be held next month during which unspecified fines and other penalties may be levied against him.

It is unclear if Alicea will face any other additional disciplinary measures apart from the law, such as a suspension or lifetime ban from the sport of wrestling for his unsportsmanlike conduct.

Sucker punch instead of a handshake

TMZ had previously reported that the incident took place on April 8 at a major wrestling tournament in Oak Park, Illinois for youth wrestlers between the ages of 8-18.

Alicea and Corder, both aged 14 and in the eighth grade, were matched up against each other in the third-place match for the 125-128 pound freestyle class, which Corder won by a lopsided score of 14-2 over Alicea.

As the match concluded, Corder moved toward his defeated opponent with his hand extended in a show of sportsmanship but Alicea, instead of shaking hands with his rival, threw a punch instead that connected directly with Corder's face and knocked him to the ground.

Per a viral video of the incident, the referee immediately grabbed Alicea after the punch and moved him away from Corder while a woman, presumed to be Corder's mother, according to the Daily Mail, shouted "What the f--k" as she rushed over to check on the fallen wrestler.

Another man, presumably Corder's father or coach, also rushed over to check on him before turning his attention toward Alicea and moving in his direction before being stopped by the referee.

"Not tolerated in our sport"

Maine West High School, the school that Alicea was representing, did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Mail.

SPAR Academy, the school represented by Corder, had previously commented on the incident to TMZ by way of its founder, Justin Pearch.

"He is making the best of the situation and is already back to training," Pearch said of Corder, and though the injury sustained was relatively minor, he will be required to wear a mask while wrestling in the near future until he is fully healed.

"As you may know, wrestling matches can get heated but nothing leading up to the punch would give cause to such bad decision-making on the opponent's part," he continued.

Pearch added, "It’s not tolerated in our sport and SPAR Wrestling will never condone that behavior."