June 23 (Reuters) - Australian heavyweight boxer Justis Huni said on Wednesday he had withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics because he needs surgery on his hands following last week’s knockout win over former National Rugby League player Paul Gallen.
Huni said he had initially injured his hands in the lead-up to a May 26 fight against Christian Tsoye and expected to undergo surgery after the Olympics, but he aggravated his injuries in the fight with Gallen.
"In the Gallen fight however, I aggravated both hands in the first round and my team sent me straight for an MRI after the fight which confirmed our worst fears, that I require an operation ASAP on both hands," he said on Facebook here.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I announce that my dream of representing Australia at the Olympics this year has been shattered.”
Huni, 22, had said before fighting Gallen in a blockbuster bout that earned him more than $200,000 and also raised his profile, that it was a gamble so close to the July 23-Aug. 8 Tokyo Games.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it was disappointed over Huni’s withdrawal but understood his decision.
“This is very sad for Justis and for the whole boxing squad going to Tokyo,” Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said in a statement.
“From what we understand given the medical circumstances, this is certainly the right decision. He is a young man with a big career ahead of him. To take this injury to Tokyo posed an unacceptable risk to that career.” (Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru Editing by Robert Birsel)