Bokondji “Boko” Imama and Brandon Manning dropped the gloves during their first AHL meeting since Manning was suspended five games for uttering a racial slur at Imama. As you can see from the video above, Imama ended up winning that fight with Manning.
Imama wins fight with Manning, has quite the night
Imama didn’t just win that fight; his team also won the game. In fact, Imama’s Ontario Reign set a franchise record by beating Manning’s Bakersfield Condors 10-3.
Imama generated a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, assist, and that fight. With all of that in mind, it’s not too surprising to see Imama beaming (and distracted) in a postgame interview:
Imama didn’t directly address the Manning fight there, but perhaps he felt that his Jan. 22 statement was enough? Manning apologized via a statement on Jan. 21, noting that he had a chance to speak with Imama after the incident.
Of course, no win (in a fight or a game) erases what Manning said to Imama. It also won’t silence critics who believe that a five-game suspension wasn’t enough. Racism remains a problem in hockey, at the AHL and NHL levels, and beyond.
How NHL, AHL has handled past incidents, and potential future approaches
There have been several incidents that became public at the NHL level, too. Chris Simon was suspended three games for using a racial slur toward Mike Grier in 1997. The league suspended Krys Barch for an alleged comment toward P.K. Subban (one Barch denied). Players have also faced plenty of ugly racist incidents involving fans.
Back in December, the NHL detailed how it may handle future moments that “cross the line.” Time will tell if those changes end up being meaningful — Aliu seemed optimistic after a talk — but hopefully Friday gave Imama a measure of closure.