A total of 14 gold medals were awarded to winners of the 2017 IMMAF World Championships, but this is not the only way that success is recognized under the IMMAF banner.
At the this year’s World Championships Finals in Manama, Bahrain, exclusive IMMAF Mouthguard provider, SAFEJAWZ, presented the first ever Golden Mouthguard Award to one deserving competitor, awarded for stand-out commitment to the sport and their embodiment of the good sporting values of amateur MMA.
The 2017 SAFEJAWZ Golden Mouthguard was presented to none other than Panama’s David Rivera (pictured).
David Rivera is a life-long martial artist which kept him on the straight and narrow whilst growing up in the high crime area of San Miguelito in Panama. For several years David has been offering not-for-profit MMA classes in his local area whilst achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Law. David perfectly represents the views of the Panamanian Association of MMA in that the sport must provide more than a sports function. It must also offer a social function that has a positive impact on society. The values that David holds dear of hard work, culture, education and social hope are the exact values that must surround MMA as a future Olympic Sport.
The enthusiastic Father-son duo of 23-year-old Rivera and coach Eusebio Rivera traveled as Panama’s sole representatives in their nation’s debut participation competing on the IMMAF platform under the national Association of Mixed Martial Arts (ANMMA). Rivera was eventually eliminated from the Men’s Bantamweight bracket by France’s Florian Moreau.
Prior to the Championships, national team leaders were invited to nominate one standout contender. Select representatives including world renowned MMA referee, Marc Goddard, and reps from SAFEJAWZ and the IMMAF then reviewed the recommendations and created a short list of 10 names. The shortlist was then put to a public vote via social media as the 2017 IMMAF Worlds played out. IMMAF President Kerrith Brown made the final decision, selecting from the 2 competitors who came out on top of the public vote.
The 10 nominees for the Golden Mouthguard included:
Benjamin Bennett – USA
Dario Bellandi – Italy
David Rivera – Panama
Jonathan Ortega – Mexico
Oscar Alvarez – Colombia
Pathian Malsawmdawngliana – India
Tobias Harila – Sweden
Vitali Andruhovich – Belarus
Wladislaw Keilbach – Germany
Yernaz Massubek – Kazakhstan