IMMAF president Kerrith Brown (pictured above, second left) recently visited Mumbai, India for the first time to attend critical meetings following the removal of former IMMAF affiliate, the All India MMA Association (AIMMAA).
AIMMAA’s membership was immediately revoked following confirmation that the body, headed by Mr. Alan Fernandes, had dissolved its status as a registered non-profit organisation, without notifying IMMAF, before registering under the same name as a private body. IMMAF membership criteria state that all members must be democratic and registered as a non-profit organization.
The IMMAF president met with former AIMMAA official Mr. Sharif Bapu and Mr. Suresh Gopi (above, far left), who serves as president of MMA India affiliated to WMMAA. The meeting was also joined by Kumite 1 promoter and AIMMAF founding member, Mr. Aditya Ps (above, second right).
“Having previously been divided through political differences, these figureheads of MMA in India met for the first time and I’m pleased to say it went very well. This was a pivotal meeting and I’m glad to have attended,” Mr. Brown explained.
Sharif Bapu has since assumed stewardship of a strong contingent essentially rendered nomadic without a national body, but who remain committed to IMMAF’s ideals and are now in talks to unite under MMA India.
“It was agreed that separate entities cannot continue to spread conflicting messages,” Mr. Brown revealed. “There is now a genuine interest to move forward under one effective umbrella headed by Mr. Gopi, for the benefit of the sport and all respective regional members of the national bodies.”
The IMMAF president’s visit coincided with the launch of Kumite 1. The standout promotion aims to raise the bar for top flight MMA in India and following discussions has become committed to providing a conveyor belt opportunity for developing athletes as part of a long haul initiative over the next 10 years. The event was also attended by heavyweight boxing icon Mike Tyson, in addition to Indian politicians and Bollywood stars.
“Both Mr. Bapu and Mr. Gopi will be in attendance at this year’s Unified World Championships. All parties have recognized the need to sustain grass roots development for athletes and the opportunities that must be provided to bring out the best that India has to offer.
“Across India, the MMA collective are able to recognise IMMAF and everything that it stands for through our commitment to WADA anti-doping standards and position as leaders in seeing that the sport of MMA becomes universally recognised and featured in the Olympic Games.
“Bringing nationwide unity across all regions is a high level target,” Mr. Brown added. “The priority in India is to benefit grass roots MMA through support for athletes and sustained, proper sanctioning. Mixed Martial Arts in India has immense potential and so we must do all we can for the athletes and practitioners who will be the life and soul of the sport’s success.”