The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation hosted its 2016 IMMAF Congress Meeting on Thursday, July 7th, during the 2016 IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA); the biggest MMA event of 2016.
Following IMMAF’s first Congress at last year’s 2015 World Championships, the meeting saw the coming together of IMMAF heads including President Kerrith Brown, CEO Densign White and board members, alongside leaders and representatives of each IMMAF Member Nation in attendance, with presentations and open discussion taking place in several areas as we head into the remainder of 2016 and on to 2017.
The board of directors acts as the voluntary executive body of IMMAF and consists of the following representatives from the sport of MMA: Kerrith Brown (President, UK), George Sallfeldt (Vice President, Sweden), August Wallen (Sweden), Bertrand Amoussou (France), Tom Madsen (Germany), Frank Babcock (USA), Wissam Abi Nader (Lebanon) and Raymond Phillips (South Africa).
Items on the 2016 Congress agenda included:
1. IMMAF President Kerrith Brown’s welcome (including Presidents Overview.)
2. Densign White CEO address/IMMAF delivery Plan 2016/17
3. Financial Report
4. South Africa Open championships 2016 presentation
6. Other business
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown welcomed all in attendance. The IMMAF President thanked the UFC and all IMMAF sponsors for their continued support, as well as IMMAF founders August Wallén and George Sallfeldt. Key developments of the year were highlighted in the opening speech, including advances in medical safety, acquisition of funding, implementation of progression pathways and education from the grassroots upwards.
Former IMMAF President Bertrand Amoussou (France) gave a presentation offering greater insight into the potential of IMMAF Progression Pathways, and provided feedback on progression systems that are currently implemented in France and which have received praise from French sport regulators.
IMMAF Director of Brand and Commerce, Dave Allen, gave an inspirational talk to IMMAF Members, explaining that “self-sufficiency is in our hands.” He discussed the value of IMMAF’s global Amateur platform as a commercial product and underscored the importance of athlete registration, highlighting the potential of the Amateur scene to flourish beyond imagination under the IMMAF banner. “People are believing in the vision,” Allen explained. IMMAF already enjoys sponsorship support from major sport and combat sports brands such as Adidas (through licensee Double D), Green Hill and Phantom Athletics.
CEO Densign White expressed to all Members the need for continuous effort in the development of national regulation worldwide. He outlined IMMAF’s high investment into advanced medical safety at the 2016 World Championships, which included on-site X-rays for athletes post-fight and immediate, mandatory CT Scan referrals for all athletes who had suffered a KO/ TKO defeat or head trauma.
Luis Barneto, Director of Portugal’s Comissão Atlética Portuguesa de MMA (CAPMMA) was invited to speak about the developments in MMA regulation in Portugal following the tragic death of professional Portuguese competitor Joao Carvalho, who sadly passed away following a match at TEF 1 at The National Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on 9 April. The incident provoked significant reform in Ireland with government recognition of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (formerly known as IAPA), as well as further advancement in medical safety in the UK scene.
Both Martin Skvara (Mixed Martial Arts Association Czech Republic President) and South Africa’s Raymond Phillips (IMMAF Board) gave presentations to Members on what can be expected at the up coming 2016 European Open Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, and the All Africa Open Championships which serves as the next even on IMMAF’s calendar, taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug 29th – Sept 4th. Registration for the African Open was declared open.
The Mixed Martial Arts South Africa and Czech MMA Associations have each secured official government recognition for sanctioning, with Czech MMA in particular having received a level of funding plus coverage from a major Czech television network.
Further to the discussion around regulation, IMMAF founder August Wallen spoke, reminding everyone of the spirit of IMMAF and the responsibility of peace work that comes with membership to all major sporting organisations. With a current total of 58 Member Federations and over 200 athletes coming together to compete from around the world at the #2016IMMAFWorlds, IMMAF is spreading unification and cooperation across all nations and cultures worldwide.
Vito Paolillo, IMMAF official and board member of the Federazione Italiana Grappling Mixed Martial Arts (FIGMMA) spoke to members of the essential need for licensing of clubs and coaches. He upheld Italy’s situation as an example, following the death of a practitioner in a local gym who had passed away due to negligent coaching and not as a result of the sport itself. This was something that FIGMMA was able to help prove on a legal platform, based on its recommended standards.
The General Meeting closed with MyNextMatch CEO and founder, Oner Avara, reviewing the role and performance of MyNextMatch as an online social and organisational event tool used throughout the 2016 World Championships, with discussion of its further evolution for future IMMAF and member events.