Throw Rug25 min read
Belding Middle School
Look, these days, you’re not supposed to tell a kid what he … or she … or they … can’t do. But you didn’t see this kid, Umi. He looked like a fourth grader. He was a foot shorter than all the other sixth graders, easy. He had these big feet, and it seemed like he was tripping over them every five steps. His head looked like a medicine ball compared to the rest of him. Being near-bald didn’t help.
I’m sure putting this kid on a mat would probably count as some sorta manslaughter.
But here at Belding, we don’t turn any kid away. As long as you’re not failing any classes, you can be on the team. It was even worse once we got him into his singlet. It hung off ‘im like he was wearing a choir robe. He couldn’t give me five push-ups in a row, and sometimes I wondered that he was able to hold all of his seventy pounds without collapsing like a pile of sticks.
I tried not to let on how much I thought he didn’t belong on a wrestling team. I would have thought he knew, but he never really seemed to get it, y’know? Y’know? Aw, c’mon! Don’t look at me like that.
Look, you work with teenagers—heck, people, in general—and you can see when someone figures out they don’t belong. You can see it in their eyes. They look at everyone around them. Size ‘em up and then take measure of themselves. Give them a minute and they won’t be back.
Not this kid. He finished three push-ups, and you would have thought he did a thousand of ‘em, one-handed. He never won a single period. His opponents couldn’t contain their joy when they squared up. After a while, the lack of challenge bored the other kids on the team.
I asked him once why he joined the wrestling team. He’d just finished his laps, dead last, as usual, and he was breathing so hard I thought he was going to have an attack or something.
“It’s … my … destiny,”
Then, I knew what was up with this kid. Too many comic books. I’d seen it before. Too many Spiderman comics and your fantasies carry you away. These kids think there’s going to be a magic accident that’s going to turn them from some scrawny loser into a muscle-bound hero. The first time you hit that mat, though. That first time somebody picks you up and slams your torso against that mat, it feels like they drummed the soul right out your chest, and unless you got heart, you don’t want to fight anymore.
So I paired Umi up with the only kid on the team that was close to his size. He was still outclassed.
Two seconds after the whistle Umi’s shoulders are pinned to the mat with his legs kicking in the air like an upturned insect. I count him out, and the other student releases him.
Umi laid there for a second and my heart drops because I just know that he has to be broken and everybody is going to say what I already knew: he had no business being out there in the first place.
Then he pops back up. I should stop the match but the kid seems fine, and I’m only a little worried when I blow the whistle again and the boys go back at it. Again, Wham! And Umi is pinned again. And again. And again. And each time I’m sure that he has a busted rib or a ruptured spleen, but each time he gets back up.
Now, I’m going to tell you, if you want Coach Hasso as a fan, all you gotta do is show some heart. Umi had more heart than a mountain gorilla.
“I like that about you, kid” I told him after practice.
“You don’t give up. You keep that up you are going to be a champion.” This is one of the many lies I tell children, hoping the child makes me a prophet.
Then the kid said the weirdest thing with a sorta crooked smile.
And I looked at him like, I know?
“The best thing anybody can do to stop me is just walk away.”
Yeah. Weird kid.
Hamilton High School
I was kinda insulted when they matched me against this kid from James Baldwin High. We called him Throw Rug. You could throw him, and he would lay there like a rug. He was the easiest kid to beat in the whole conference. A skinny black kid who barely filled out his singlet. I thought black guys were supposed to be cut. This kid barely had enough muscle to make a bicep. I gave my phone to Drake so he could film me tossing this kid.
We start in the neutral position, standing face-to-face. I expected Throw Rug to look scared. He didn’t. I’m pretty small, too, and I was glad this was going to be an easy win. Throw Rug rubs his nappy, Brillo pad hair (Why don’t they cut that ish or somethin’?) The ref blows the whistle. I tried to grab his legs so I can slam him. It’s a bit harder. I threw his body over my hip and down he goes. While I had him pinned, I took a moment to look at the camera and smile. Throw Rug pushed me hard and before the ref gets to “three” I could feel Throw Rug pushing me over. I could hear all the guys on both teams yelling. I tried to regain control, but I just couldn’t get his other shoulder pinned. Throw Rug’s team was going nuts.
The referee blew the whistle, and we have to fight a second period. I got to choose defensive position. I got on all fours, and Throw Rug was behind me with his hand over my navel and his other hand on my elbow. I could hear him breathing hard; harder than he should and I knew he was too tired to finish this period. The whistle blew and I twisted my torso so I can grab him and press him to the mat. But Throw Rug moved and all of my force caused me to fall backwards. And then Throw Rug slammed into me and, since I’m off balance, I get knocked to the mat and, suddenly, Throw Rug was on top of me and my shoulders were actually pinned! The ref was actually counting! I froze before I realized I needed to get up. I was not going to be the first person to lose to Throw Rug!
I was able to get him on his side but he won’t go over. I pushed and he pushed back and every time I thought I had him down, he wiggled out of it. I got a glance of Drake and he’s not even pointing the phone anymore. He was just yelling. So was everybody else. Whistle blew again.
We went into a third period. Throw Rug got to pick and he decided on neutral. We square up and when the ref blew the whistle, I grabbed his middle to control him. I pushed hard to get him over, and he didn’t go down easy. When he did go down, I made sure that I got my arms under his legs and I used them as leverage to push his shoulders into the mat. The ref started to count and Throw Rug wasn’t able to break my hold. The whistle blew, the match was over, and the ref raised my hands when I stood up.
The Baldwin team rushed the mat and picked Throw Rug up like he’d won a division match by himself.
“What’s that all about?”
“Bro!” Drake said looking at me in disbelief.
“Bro! Throw Rug never made it to third period, before. You’re the first. Not a good look, Bro.”
Umchasi “Umi” Reed’s mother
I was really sick in high school and, as a result, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have children. Y’know, at that age, you don’t want kids, anyway. But when someone tells you that your future has lost possibilities …
I’d been seeing Kwame for some months before I thought we might be serious. I was nervous about telling him I couldn’t have children. He seemed like he’s be a cool dad. It took some time, but he was okay with it. We always thought when we were ready, we could adopt. Not to mention, there are a million black children looking for homes, right?
I love Kwame. I loved him more when I found a book of names that he’d been keeping most of his life with names for his children. A date on the inside cover told me he’d been keeping it since he was ten. He’d been dreaming about children since he was a child himself, and he married me anyway. So when I found out I was pregnant, the feeling of this being a gift was multiplied tenfold.
Our son’s birth was full of worry. A lot of prayer. The labor was without event but when he came into the world, he was not breathing. I was too weak to do a thing but raise my head in the slightest and ask what was wrong. I heard a thump, a reflexive scream, and then an apology. Kwame looked back at the doctors and then at me and then back, again. Then the room was silent except for me asking somebody to tell me something. And then my baby was crying.
He spent two weeks in an incubator. He was well underweight and his lungs were underdeveloped. Kwame’s mother, Eisha, sat with me. Kwame’s mother was … strange. A beautiful woman in all ways, but she believed in spirits and potions. African stuff I’d never heard of and made for interesting advice during my entire pregnancy. I tried to be respectful. Outside of church, I don’t do metaphysical, even then, I’m known as a clutch prayer.
It was heartbreaking and inspiring to look at him in the incubator, his small chest working as if he was running. I had not named him then. When Eisha asked me why not, it was hard for me to say.
“I don’t know if he’s going make it. I can name him but I don’t know if I can keep him. If I name him—”
Eisha sat for a long time. I thought she was letting it go. I should have known better.
“I’ll tell you. That may not ever go away. Even if he makes it out of this hospital. Everything in the universe may come against the boy. The only protection he will have is the care of those who love him. Don’t be too afraid to give him that.”
That evening, Kwame came to the hospital. We sat next to our son with the book of names. An hour and a half of going through names and debate and we found one that worked.
Umchasi is Xhousa.
It means “Opponent.”
Then, and for years after, I never would have thought I would have wrestling trophies in my living room. Wrestling!
Umchasi “Umi” Reed’s Father
It seemed like after my dad turned fifty, he was crying all the time. I always thought it was awkward. By the time I graduated college he was at my graduation dinner tearing up. My dad wasn’t the most macho guy.
Yet, I’m watching my son walk onto the wrestling mat, and I flashback to Nala and I sitting by his incubator trying to think of names for him. My heart swells and my vision gets all wavy. I never told Nala this, but I didn’t think the boy would make it. At that time, I was not one for faith. It’s my fault.
My mom was all into spiritualism and magic and stuff. I was so embarrassed when, on my first day of first grade, I opened my A-Team lunchbox to find high john root in a little bag with a note. The white kid next to me asked what was in the bag. I showed him with pride because didn’t everyone’s mom show love by putting a talisman in their lunchbox to give them courage and favor? When the other kid saw the small nugget of root as I held it in my hand, he scrunched his nose up.
“Ewww, it looks like a turd!” Then he looked at me. I had no idea what this meant, and then he said it louder so the other kids in the class could hear.
“Hey! This kid has a turd in his lunchbox! He eats turds! Ewwwww!”
You can guess what happened next. For the rest of my school year, kids were calling me Turd Boy. From that point on I was embarrassed by my mom’s hoodoo, and I just wanted her to stop. Without even realizing why, I became a pragmatist. Eventually, it led me into computer engineering. No magic, just logic gates.
I guess Umi changed all of that for me. As my son walks out onto the mat, a senior in high school, he looks like a god, and this is my miracle. He is lean, hard muscle, everywhere. His hair is loc’ed and braided close to his skull, per regulation. He’s six feet and three inches, and I don’t think he is done growing. I have a good job. I can afford shoes.
I’m a little ashamed of my pride as I notice the looks he gets from the girls as he stretches and shakes his long limbs. So, this is the pitiful thing dads do when they live vicariously through the lives of their sons? His high school career is very different from mine.
The boy is a miracle. When he came home and told us that he wanted to join the wrestling team, Nala and I were immediately against it. But after some reflection I realized that I didn’t want to stand in his way. If the boy wanted to try something different …
Nala, on the other hand, was totally against it, and she fought it every step of the way. But Umi would not stop pushing for it. He nailed it when he stopped eating. Getting food down that boys throat was her primary and universal concern and when he stopped taking meals, she had to concede to get him to have some kale.
At least one of us always attended his bouts. Whenever Nala went, she would bring papers to grade so she would have an excuse not to look. But she always looked and I had to restrain her on more than one occasion when she thought Umi was being treated roughly.
“Baby, It’s wrestling. He’ll be fine,” I said. (It was the thing frequently I said to myself when I started to worry.) If I’m honest, it was raw, male pride that kept me from running down there myself. On occasion, to satiate both of us, I would casually stroll to the area where the team sat, say a few words to the coach, and then talk to Umi to make sure he was fine. Y’know. Cool.
Now, Umi is a near giant and the referee blows the whistle. Umi’s opponent is built like a tractor and he looks a little nervous. He starts for Umi and they grapple. The Tractor is pushing and pushing trying to find leverage. He finds none and Umi doesn’t move. They break. The Tractor comes in again and this time Umi leaps. Umi’s body looks like a pinwheel as his legs go into the air. In the middle of the spin, Umi grabs the waist of his opponent and when Umi lands on the mat, his opponent is thrown face down to the ground. Before I can process what just happened, the referee has counted, the match is over, and Nala is on her feet with both hands in the air screaming.
Second Year, Psychology
I am not a ho. I wonder why, in the twenty-first century, are we still slut-shaming (Hmm, Leah?) Maybe people should get the whole story before going talking garbage. I wasn’t even looking for a boyfriend. I didn’t work as hard as I did to get side-railed by some college student looking for himself. It just kinda happened.
My mom—my liberal-women’s-studies-pussy-hat-BLM-supporting-marriage-is-an-artifact-of-the-patriarchy-super-lefty-mom looked really embarrassed as she tried to talk to me about the boys I’d meet at college. It wasn’t until I was sitting in my dorm room that I realized that she low-key told me to stay away from the black guys.
Wooooow! I guess it’s right what they say about your kids and your politics.
Umi and I met off campus in front of a grocery store. A foot of snow had fallen and more was on the way. I was studying too hard to realize that I might be snowed in for a while. So (too late) I thought I should get some supplies before it got too bad. My car was stuck in my parking space. I was trying to dig myself out with the ice scraper (it broke), and I was starting to think I would have to walk away since no one seemed to be coming by to help. Umi showed up and waved in the window.
“No, man. Spinning wheels is fun.” For a second, he was actually trying to figure out if I was kidding.
“Alright, put it in neutral, turn the wheel towards me and come help me.” I got out and saw the guy was big. He had to be 6’4” and big enough to fit me on one of his shoulders. His locs flared across his back and were salted with snow. If he couldn’t push this car out himself, then I didn’t see how I was going to be much help. If I’m honest, I was a little concerned. In the back of my head I was micro-regretting not putting the pepper spray my mom had given me on my keychain. I didn’t want to be that woman. But here I was; no better than my mom.
“Okay, now,” Umi said. “I want you to push with me. On three. One, two, PUSH—” The car started moving, and I’m sure I wasn’t doing anything. Umi shoved the car onto the shoveled road. When the car had to stop, he literally jogged around the front and backwards jogged with his hands on the hood until it stopped. Show off.
We rode back to campus together. We talked for a while. Found out he was studying architecture and had a full-ride wrestling scholarship. When he told me he was on the wrestling team, I thought he might be on some jock-talk, like my brothers. Nope. We talked music. He was really into Afrobeat and dancehall. He said his dad got him into it. When I told him I was into Sister Nancy and Barrington Levy he seemed confused. He had never heard of Barrington Levy! I spent the rest of the afternoon educating him in the student center.
We’d been together for about three months. Finals were coming up and we’d been having a conversation about meeting parents. Turns out both of our parents seemed to have some hang-ups about interracial dating when it came to their kids. Umi wasn’t sure how his dad would react.
“My dad was sorta disappointed when I didn’t go to an HBCU,” he confessed. “And if I pledge, I better come home wearing black and gold.”
“Black and gold?” I asked. He spent the rest of the afternoon educating me.
One day, a guy sat at my table while I was reading. He looked like he was in his late 20s. Maybe a student. He looked a little awkward at first. I thought maybe he was trying to push up. He wasn’t.
He was from another university. A nicer one. He showed me an acceptance letter with the promise of a scholarship with my name on it. He told me that if I could find out if Umi was using any performance-enhancing drugs, the letter was mine. I was sitting in the dining hall of my safety school trying not to think about debt. I knew that Umi was clean. He had too much pride to juice. But this …
I started to talk to Umi about his routine and his training regimen. I hung out with him at the gym. I have to admit; I was curious. I thought about the first day we met and him pushing and then stopping my car. He was incredibly strong, and I wanted to know why as much as anyone else. And if he was doping, then I really didn’t want to be bothered with him anyway. So everybody wins, right?
I would see him wrestle, and he was always unstoppable. But to see him in the gym was a different story. He worked out for, at least, two hours twice a day. I watched him leg press all the plates. It was fun watching the football guys sniffing around trying to recruit him. His grandma always sent him strange things, but he never drank or ate any of it. But he did cherish those things. Sometimes he would wear them around his neck.
The only thing he spent a lot of time on, besides his workout and his studies, was his hair. It seemed like it would be a problem with the wrestling. But he kept good care of his hair and went to go see another girl on campus, Nikia, who he would pay to braid it up for him so it was close to his skull and ready for bouts. I sat with him, one time, while he was getting his hair braided, and we watched movies together. I was a little jealous as I watched the other girl handle his locs in a way that felt like the highest expression of care and love. Yet her face was impassive as her attention went from his head to the movie we were watching.
“Why don’t you just cut the hair? You can grow it back later,” I asked. They both looked at me with a side-eye and no answer. I pretended to look at the screen and dropped it.
Umi would talk about his childhood. When he told me he was a scrawny sickly kid, I didn’t believe him until he pulled out his phone and started showing me pictures. I didn’t even recognize the kid in the pictures. I could tell he was a weezer. All bones and a near bald head.
I started to notice that as the pictures progressed in time, Umi became larger and his hair grew longer. He had a huge Afro before he had it twisted into locs.
“At one point they used to call me Throw Rug. After this, though, they changed my name to Bear Rug.” Umi showed me a picture himself as a teenager, well-muscled but not big, with cornrows holding a wrestling trophy and flanked by his smiling parents.
I remember learning about how people used talismans as psychological crutches. This happens a lot in sports. You always hear about athletes who have some kind of lucky charm that’s supposed to empower their game. Jordan’s gym shorts are a famous example. Of course there is no actual corollary between the object and the performance of the player. But there was plenty of coincidence. What if Umi’s hair was his talisman? What if he thought that gave him strength?
After a few weeks of looking around, I found nothing. When the guy from the other college called and asked me what I knew, I told him that, as far as I could see, Umi didn’t use any drugs. He didn’t even take vitamins. He was silent for a moment.
“Well, I’m sorry you couldn’t help us. I guess—”
“Wait,” I reflexively called. I told him about the hair and how I thought it might be a major crutch of his confidence. This was a small and silly idea. It couldn’t hurt anything.
There was a grunt on the other end of the line. This wasn’t FaceTime so I couldn’t read his expression.
“Thank you,” he said then he hung up.
I couldn’t talk to Umi for a few days. When I did, I had to force myself to look at him.
Umachisi “Umi” Reed
I used to have to work really hard to look like I wasn’t scared. I can still remember a time when everything on Earth looked big and dangerous enough to crush me. I used to have nightmares all the time. I stopped telling my folks about it because they would do corny stuff like check under the bed and closets and sleep with me. I was smart enough to know that the fear wasn’t around me. It was in me. And I couldn’t get it out. It was like that for a while. Until I spent the weekend with Grandma.
Now, when I look into the eyes of my opponent, I transfer all of my fear and anxiety into him. I just use a trick my mom taught me when I was being bullied in third grade.
“Just look ‘em in the eye, Baby,” she said to me while lying in bed and gently massaging my scalp.
“How is that supposed to work? Daddy said I should say bad stuff about his mama. Like yo’ mama so f—”
“Look!” she interrupted. “I love your daddy, but I’d be surprised if that man ever made a fist to anything but keep his fingers warm. You listen to your mama. You can’t tell, now, but I have a history of ratchetry and thuggery that you will never learn about. Trust. You just look your opponent dead in the eye and don’t say a word. Hear me?”
It worked every time.
And, now, here I am. Olympic tryouts are in my future, and I might be going to Lagos. I try to keep all of that out of my mind and focus on the match ahead. This bout, we are going against our rival, Davis University. Both Davis and Steele wanted me. Steele made the better offer and they had a better Architecture program that fed into some of the best firms in the country. Davis came to regret not pushing harder, because we’d pasted them every year since I’d joined the team.
I meet my opponent. He looks like a shaved gorilla. I’m not sure where they found this guy, but this is my first time seeing him at a bout. As we are checking in with the judge, Shaved Gorilla keeps giving me the hard stare. I look at him, grin, and give him the pistol fingers.
“Ya’ mom taught you that, right?” I can tell he doesn’t think I’m funny. For a brief second he looks like he wants to fist fight.
“Hey—” it’s the judge, “—we good, here, gentlemen.” We both nod affirmation and head to the mat.
There is a double whistle blow. The ref runs over to Coach and tells him something while pointing in my direction. They are going back and forth, both glancing back at me. Before I can go over there, they both come to me. Coach looks away and says, “They’re saying you’re not ready to wrestle. Your … um … your hair is too long.”
“What?! Nobody’s said anything before.”
The ref looks at me. “Well, I’m saying something to you, now. That hair is a danger to you and the other wrestlers and it needs to go now or you forfeit the match.”
“Hey, those are the rules,”
“Those are not the rules and you know it!” Coach almost spits.
“So what?” I ask. “You want me to wear a scarf or somethin’?”
“No, it has to come off.” The ref gives me his best poker face. I look around. No one else is here. My dad talked to me about finding other people like me when I went to university. I tried. But there just weren’t a lot of black folks here, and I always preferred to keep to myself. I guess that was reflexive from being picked on so much as a kid. At no other time did I feel that as much as I did now. My parents weren’t in the stands. I could not ask my grandmother what I should do next. I was alone with no one to stand for me or tell me what to do next. I would not let these people see me cry.
I looked at the Davis coach, and he was just pacing back and forth with his arms folded. He didn’t seem the least bit curious as to what was happening here. He would look away and then look down and anywhere but at me. I looked down at the ref.
“What’s it going to be, son?”
“Cut it. I don’t care. Just get it done.”
I unbraid my hair. My locs were thick, so they came down relatively fast. While I worked my fingers between the oiled braids I tried to think of home and everyone who loved me. It was good for my heart not to see my parents worry every time I left the house or had a fall. I didn’t like it as a kid. No one seemed to think I was strong. I wasn’t strong and strength, as a boy, was my primary concern.
A small red-headed woman showed up with scissors and a grocery bag. I am too tall, so I kneel so she can reach my hair. The scissors sound new and sharp. I almost can’t hear the sound of the shears going through my hair. While I kneel for her, I let my hands savor the feeling of the ground. I hold that feeling.
When I was eleven, I spent the weekend with my grandma. Whenever I visited her, I wasn’t allowed to watch television. We spent most of the time in her small greenhouse, listening to music and talking. I didn’t mind. Grandma and Grandpa were cool. Grandpa would let me play his sax. Grandma was good to talk to.
I had nightmares over there, too. Grandma came in to see about me. She did not look for monsters. I was too old for that, anyway. She did ask me what my dream was about. I told her. Instead of listening and grunting like my mother did, she actually asked questions about colors and dug for details.
“… what kind of fur did the beast have? Was it more like a wolf, or an ape?”
And another time she asked, “So what are you actually scared of?”
“I’m scared of being too weak to win.”
“Win? Win what?” I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t quite know, at that age.
“Look, go on to sleep. You and I will deal with that tomorrow. I think I know what will help you.”
The next morning, when I woke up and padded to the kitchen, Grandma was already up and the kitchen counter was full of bowls herbs and cooking things.
“What you making?”
“It’s ‘what are you making.’ And what I am making is something that is going to help you with your problem. Here, drink this.” What she handed me smelled sweet but tasted so bitter it made my eyes squint and my head shake.
“Boy! I ain’t your mama …”
“I’m not your mama.” Grandma’s stare let me know I needed to sit down at the table and finish the drink. As I drank, Grandma came to me with a bowl. When I’d finished the mug, she put her hand in the oil, stood behind me and massaged my scalp with the oils.
“What are you doing, Grandma?”
“Shhhh. I’m helping.”
When she was finished, my whole body felt relaxed. I almost went to sleep on the table. Grandma tied a scarf around my head, picked me up, and put me in bed.
The red-headed woman is almost finished, She is clipping the locs closest to my left temple. Meanwhile, my teammates have gathered around, shouting words of encouragement. Inspired or guilty, they know I am doing this for the team, and I guess the moral support is the least they could do. It is.
She’s done. I put my hand to my head and it feels like Mars. I can feel the air on my scalp, and I feel exposed in front of everyone there. I look up at the Davis coach. He is having the hardest time hiding his grin. The ref makes a quick inspection and I put my protective gear back on. I step back in the circle with my opponent. The ref blows the whistle. The Shaved Gorilla comes at me fast.
“I don’t feel any stronger,” I’d told my grandma while flexing my arms.
“You won’t for a while.”
“What do I have to do?”
“If you want strength, you must earn it. So I have opened your chakras and reprogrammed them. Now, every time you are defeated, every time you are cast down, you will get up stronger than before.
“So the more you lose, the more you win. If your opponent wants to keep you weak, then the best thing for him to do is walk away.”
I do not get low in my stance or even open my arms. I just fold my arms and stand there as the Shaved Gorilla grapples and tries to lift me. He is attacking a monument. I do not move. The period ends and the ref blows the whistle. I look at Coach, his mouth is agape. My teammates are yelling their heads off. I look at the Davis coach. He is pissed.
The second period I pick the offensive position. My opponent kneels in front of me on all fours and I kneel behind him, one hand on his elbow, the other over his navel. The whistle blows.
He tries to stand, but my hand holds him to the mat. He can’t move. I don’t move. I just hold him there. I can feel his effort to fight me. He is strong. I’m stronger. Much stronger.
Third period. He picks the neutral position.
The whistle blows. Shaved Gorilla starts at me. He makes a few false starts as he circles me. I keep my eyes locked on his eyes. When he makes his move I deliberately look at the Davis coach. My hand slips under the arm of the Shaved Gorilla and I lift all three-hundred and two pounds of him into the air and hold him there. I let him kick and struggle for a while before I drop him to the mat. I place one hand in the middle of his chest right below the clavicle and I hold him there. He kicks and struggles to get up. He can’t. I take a moment to look at Shaved Gorilla. His face is red and there is spittle around his mouth as he struggles to escape from under my hand. The Davis coach is running up and down the mat and yelling at his boy. I shake my head and say to the ref, “Are you going to count?”
The ref stops staring and finally does his job. The match is over.
If they wanted to stop me, they should have walked away.