A leading figure in Indian martial arts and MMA, pioneer Daniel Isaac is founder and a National Director of the All India Mixed Martial Arts Association. With more than 20 regional state federations affiliated to the organisation and with a network across Asia, the AIMMAA is a growing monster within MMA.
IMMAF caught up with Daniel Isaac to find out more.
AIMMAA is structured as an alliance representing state MMA federations across India, each with representation in regional districts. How long has it taken to develop this infrastructure? How did you start the process and what have been the main obstacles ?
AIMMAA was formed in the year 2000 but registered in 2004. Its been a long process and required a lot of patience. We originally registered the organization as “All India Kickboxing Council” since the registration authorities were not aware of the existence of the sport of MMA and told us that there is no such thing as MMA [ lol ] and we could only register under the name of Kickboxing and or under the name of a recognised martial art style. However later we were able to put up presentations for them and convince them that “Mixed Martial Arts” was indeed an entity on its own and soonafter apply for a change report to “All India Mixed Martial Arts Association”. If you look up “Sherdog Clash of the Champions” on google you will see that the first ever MMA promotion from India was “Clash of the Champions” the promoter of this event was Jitendra Jain [ the current AIMMAA National President ]. The AIMMAA has been sanctioning and supervising such shows in India for the last 10 plus years and I believe that experience in the field speaks for itself.
Whereas the state associations are concerned and what obstables we have been through to unify and help in registration of all the individual states I believe I can write a book to cover that story. However, all said and done it was worth the wait and I have received the support of all our Chief Delegates from across India who helped us make AIMMAA the largest and most active MMA organization in the country. India is a culturally diverse country and each state can seem like a country of its own because of its unique culture and diversity. I’m proud to say that the heads of state supporting the AIMMAA are all leaders and veterans in their own right, each of them have done their bit to reach their pinnacle of success in martial arts, and each of them has achieved success in their own areas. It’s these martial arts veterans who have contributed greatly to the success of the AIMMAA. Today, our time tested affiliation format helps recognize and affiliate individual members, amateur and pro fighters, dojos and martial arts clubs, mma and fitness gyms, and districts under each state association in India.
You have also been active in the development of Asian MMA most recently in helping Bahrain to establish an MMA governing body and in being appointed to oversee Bahrain’s national team trails. How did the relationship with Bahrain come about? What are your responsibilities in Bahrain ?
My work in the field of MMA these days is as a consultant. I help work with neighbouring countries in Asia and the Middle East at the grass roots level, the purpose being to use the AIMMAA’s successful format as a model for these countries. Bahrain and its MMA federation has received great support under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_bin_Hamad_Al_Khalifa ] . The Bahrain National MMA Federation is led by Mohd Shahid who is a good friend and martial arts brother of mine for many years. I have led many workshops and seminars for Bahrain MMA, to include certification, under AIMMAA. I’m glad to see the sport developing at a steady but good pace. I believe Bahrain will soon be the hub for MMA in the middle east. I’m glad to have been instrumental in helping Bahrain through its application for IMMAF membership. Sheikh Khalid is a martial arts practitioner and trains in MMA regularly . Mohd Shahid is a pro mma fighter [ http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Mohammed-Shahid-93401 ].
Your involvement with Super Fight League’s India vs Pakistan event was also notable. Tell us a little about the event. What was AIMMAA’s involvement? Why was the event significant? What did you take away from the event and will there be future PAKMMA/ AIMMAA collaborations?
The SFL India vs Pakistan show was a landmark event for the region, It was both historic and pioneering for both India and Pakistan. There was a joint collaboration from 3 of the major MMA groups representing Pakistan’s MMA community and AIMMAA. The Super Fight League has always conducted its shows in India under the supervision and governance of the AIMMAA so my involvement was both at AIMMAA and SFL levels for this show. It was the first time that Indian and Pakistani MMA officials have got to meet, network and work together for the development of the sport. I have known Pakistan’s MMA Pioneer Bashir Ahmad for about a decade. so it was great to work with him and his team of officials and fighters at this event. The SFL does plan on hosting at least two more India vs Pakistan events in Dubai, and the SFL is also working on a plan to help develop the local MMA scene in Pakistan by working with and supporting the local MMA community. Apart from that AIMMAA and PAKMMA under the IMMAF supervision have been working behind the scenes to promote an Amateur MMA Championship between both countries. We hope to be able to make an official announcement soon.
Will India be competing in the IMMAF World Championships? What has the Tryouts process been?
The AIMMAA tryouts for the 2015 IMMAF Worlds began about 8 months ago. We have conducted tryouts at all four corners of the country and selected some of India’s top amateur athletes. Unfortunately we have not been successful in raising sponsorship to cover flights, visa costs and accommodation for our 10 member team as yet. There have been other internal and technical difficulties which have created obstacles. Fingers crossed, we will find a solution and be able to present a team and win some some medals.
Will you be applying to stand for a role on the IMMAF Board? If so, what do you believe can bring to IMMAF and in which areas would you most like to see developments?
AIMMAA has officially proposed my name for a role on the IMMAF world board. This is a great honour for me. I believe that my experience in MMA in India over the last decade, coupled with good networking and working relations between AIMMAA and other Asian / Middle Eastern countries will help me bring much positivity and development for IMMAF and the sport of MMA in the region. I believe that Asia and the Middle east have a lot of untapped potential, where talent and expertise in MMA is concerned; and I believe we can ignite a revolution for the sport of MMA in this region.
ABOUT DANIEL ISAAC
Daniel Isaac began martial arts training in Barnes School, Devlali at the age of 5. He trained in a style called “Oriental Martial Arts” also known as ishudo which is a blend of striking, grappling and submission martial arts founded by his father the late great grandmaster Solomon Isaac. Between 1985 and 1990 he won every major full contact karate and taekwondo event in his weight category in India.I n 1992 he was already the 5 time National Champion in Kickboxing. He also has won a series of martial arts events and championships both nationally and internationally including World Kickboxing title sanctioned by the World Kickboxing Council in the flyweight category. In June 1994 Daniel was the gold medalist at the WAKO Kickboxing Olympics of Hersoness held in Crimea. He is India’s FIRST ever World Champion in kickboxing. He has trained thousands of martial arts students all over India including the officers and recruits of the Indian army and air force stations.he retired undefeated as a professional kickboxer in 1995.
Entry into MMA – In the year 2000 Daniel began promoting Mixed Martial Arts (MMA or Ultimate Fighting) by organizing many national and international amateur MMA championships. He established “Tigers Gym” which was India’s first MMA training facility.His fighters have represented India in muay thai , kickboxing , sambo , pankration and amateur / pro MMAduring his time with Tigers Gym.
Daniel has worked with numerous MMA promotions in Asia , Europe and the Middle East as a consultant for Indian fighters including Legend Fighting Championships Hong Kong, Martial Combat [ on Star Sports] ADFC , Art of War FC and One