Pictured: Anders Ohlsson, Gabriella Ringblom and Christer Ringblom at the finals of the 2016 IMMAF World Championships
By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran
After nine years of voluntary work with the Swedish MMA Federation (SMMAF), Swedish national team leader Christer Ringblom announced his retirement from MMA this year at the age of 66.
“It’s time to slow down,” he announced via social media. For close to a decade Ringblom has spent his retirement years donating total commitment in a nonprofit role to the development of Swedish MMA. Ringblom first joined the SMMAF in 2010 as a judge before progressing to join the coaching staff of Sweden’s national amateur MMA team, taking on the team leader responsibilities alongside Anders Ohlsson.
From the first IMMAF European Open in 2015 to the historic IMMAF – WMMAA Unified World Championships in 2018, Ringblom has traveled the globe as a staple of the SMMAF national team and one of the most charismatic personalities of the IMMAF family.
“I am proud to thank Christer for his years of work and commitment to the development of MMA,” IMMAF president Kerrith Brown stated. “For years he embodied the spirit of IMMAF and made a significant impact towards Sweden’s sensational development. On behalf of everyone at IMMAF – WMMAA, I thank Christer for his years of selfless work and wish you a happy retirement.”
Having already been one of the world’s most well established national governing bodies, with government support and sanctioning of UFC events, Sweden’s dominance of the international amateur competition platform flourished during Ringblom’s four-year tenure with widespread triumph and an unrivaled medal haul spanning the World Championships, European Open, Africa Open and Asia Open.
Ringblom passionately thanked each dedicated athlete who has contributed the renowned Swedish team.Today, Sweden remain the world’s no.1 ranked nation in the unified world team rankings. The nation has also produced an abundance of international gold medalists and leading standouts across the majority of weight divisions, including former IMMAF world champion Gabriella Ringblom, Christer’s daughter.
“There’s been a lot of highlights over the years with the MMA national team. What I personally value most is when my daughter Gabriella became 2016 world champion in Las Vegas,” he noted.
As a competitor in the women’s flyweight division, Gabriella Ringblom won gold at the 2016 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas and became the first woman and Swedish athlete to reach the number-one rank in IMMAF’s pound-for-pound standings, a position that Sweden would hold from 2016-2018 via Ringblom, Cornelia Holm and Irman Smajic.
In his final outing with Sweden at the 2018 IMMAF – WMMAA Unified World Championships, Ringblom accepted the trio of awards won by Swedish athletes at the first International Amateur MMA Awards (pictured below), including Team of the Year, Male Athlete of the Year (Irman Smajic) and Female Athlete of the Year (Anna Astvik).
Ringblom has also served as supervisor of the SMMAF national amateur league implementing varied rule sets based on athlete experience levels, and as chairman of the SMMAF judicial committee, underlining his passion for sport development.
“I am impressed by the diligent work that IMMAF board and officials implement and how far we have come in the international work of championships, training of judges and coaches, the development of safe MMA, anti-doping and the active work to belonging to the Olympic Family,” he stated. “Thankyou for all the work you put down.
“Now, I’m going to take care of my children, grandchildren and my 92-year-old mother who lives at my house. I feel like it’s “Pay-Back-time” for me to take care of her. She needs me in the last part of life, and I’m gonna give her that.”