#WhiteCard Social Media Campaign – April 6 – International Day of Sport for Peace

IMMAF invites the MMA community worldwide to take part, on April 6, in the online #WhiteCard campaign organised by Peace and Sport in support of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), established by the United Nations General Assembly and the International Olympic Committee.

PARTICIPATING IN THE WHITE CARD CAMPAIGN

The #WhiteCard is recognised as the symbol of the peace-through-sport movement. Holding up a #WhiteCard, like a referee, symbolises the positive power of sport, inclusion, equity and peace. By taking part, you share the vision that sport can help change the world. 

IMMAF members and MMA fighters, coaches, officials, volunteers, participants and supporters can simply take part by;

  1. taking a photo of yourself holding a blank white card
  2. uploading it to your social media with the hashtags #WhiteCard #MMAforPeace.

As every white card photo has its “own” story, we encourage you to also add your own story or experience of MMA promoting inclusion, equity and/ or peace.

#WhiteCard Social Media Campaign – April 6 – International Day of Sport for Peace

IMMAF invites the MMA community worldwide to take part, on April 6, in the online #WhiteCard campaign organised by Peace and Sport in support of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP), established by the United Nations General Assembly and the International Olympic Committee.

PARTICIPATING IN THE WHITE CARD CAMPAIGN

The #WhiteCard is recognised as the symbol of the peace-through-sport movement. Holding up a #WhiteCard, like a referee, symbolises the positive power of sport, inclusion, equity and peace. By taking part, you share the vision that sport can help change the world. 

IMMAF members and MMA fighters, coaches, officials, volunteers, participants and supporters can simply take part by;

  1. taking a photo of yourself holding a blank white card
  2. uploading it to your social media with the hashtags #WhiteCard #MMAforPeace.

As every white card photo has its “own” story, we encourage you to also add your own story or experience of MMA promoting inclusion, equity and/ or peace.

After 2 Years of Near Misses, Sweden Took Over Amateur MMA at the 2016 World Championships

As the founding nation of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, Sweden’s domestic governance of MMA quickly produced an impressive national team to compete on the world stage beginning with the 2014 IMMAF World Championships in Las Vegas, USA. However, the nation was dealt consecutive years of near misses before finally taking over the international scene.

Unsurprisingly, Team USA would come out on top of the medal table with the most gold medals secured at both the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. Meanwhile, 2014 saw Sweden achieve the understated statistic of having the most athletes reach the finals of the World Championships. National team pioneers Gabriella Ringblom (women’s flyweight), Jill Holmström (women’s featherweight), Joel Moya (men’s featherweight) and
Jimmie Jensen (men’s lightweight) would each battle to the final of the respective divisions, yet would be forced to settle for silver medals. Current UFC standout Amanda Ribas notably earned gold for Brazil with a unanimous decision win over Ringblom, the future world champion.

Ringlom earned gold in dominant fashion at the 2016 Worlds

The theme continued in 2015 with a further three silver medals earned. Experienced Frenchman Iurie Bejenari bested another future champion in Serdar Altas in the men’s flyweight division, Ireland’s Frans Mlmabo triumphed with Joel Moya taking silver at featherweight for a second year and Italy’s Micol Di Segni slugged it out with Anja Saxmark to earn gold via decision in the women’s flyweight tournament. Saxmark would go earn to achieve silver medals at the Asian Open and twice at the European Open Championships. Having only been stopped once, by Iceland’s Sunna Davíðsdóttir, Saxmark remains of the toughest women to compete on the IMMAF platform and is likely among the best athletes to have not secured a gold medal.

Saxmark (red shorts, right) battled Davíðsdóttir in a grueling 2015 European Open final.

2016 would finally be Sweden’s year on top of the World Championships medal table, ironically doing so without a single silver medal. While future UFC veteran Rostem Akman earned bronze at middleweight, all three Swedish finalists including Gabriella Ringblom, Cornelia Holm (women’s bantamweight) and Irman Smajic (heavyweight) wouldn’t triumphantly accomplish Sweden’s first world titles at the elite pro level. All three athletes would successively become the world’s top ranked amateur MMA competitor in the pound-for-pound standings.

Two-time IMMAF heavyweight champion, Irman Smajic

The Swedish team would continue to hold top position at back-to-back World and European Championships until late 2018. The team cleaned up at the 2017 Amateur MMA Awards, winning Best Female Athlete (Anna Astvik), Best Male Athlete (Irman Smajic) and Team of the Year.

A shift in the landscape of national team prowess sparked a difficult year for Sweden, placing ninth in the 2018 Senior World Championships medal table with Nina Back earning the strawweight silver and Mustafa Atrakchi securing bronze at light-heavyweight. In the Junior Worlds, Millie Eriksson achieved silver in the women’s jr. flyweight division.

Sweden bounced back to prominence at the 2019 World Championships and the nation’s female standouts in particular carried the team to third place in the senior medal table. Bezhan Mahmudi (atomweight) and Bianca Antman (women’s flyweight) took home world titles while the team also secured a trio of bronze medals awarded to former European gold medalist Frida Vastamäki, Sandra Meneses and talented wrestling specialist Daniyal Shamkhalov who emerged to shake things up in the men’s featherweight ranks.

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

From Competitor To Leader, How Jo Doyle Galvanised Women’s MMA Talent in the UK

MMA competitor Joanne Doyle (pictured above, left) was among the most consistent achievers of the UK national amateur MMA team from 2016 to 2018, yet it was a distinct lack of women’s talent within the national lineup that motivated the former European Open gold medalist to adopt a leadership role and introduce new opportunities to young up-and-comers.

Representing Team UK, Doyle won the 2016 IMMAF European Open championship in the featherweight division, advancing to the final with two victories before taking a split-decision win over future world champion Julia Dorny. Doyle would go on to earn bronze at the IMMAF World Championships in 2017 in addition to a European Open silver medal in 2018.

It was the 2018 European Open in Bucharest that marked the turning point of Doyle’s involvement with her national team. Doyle represented the senior national squad as the only woman within a group of 10 athletes. It was clear that women’s talent was not being engaged. However, the invite to lead a rejuvenated women’s team was the opportunity for Doyle to build new bridges and pathways, and she began to galvanise prospects from across the nation.

“When I was offered the position I jumped at the opportunity,” Doyle explained. “I knew there was a lot of female talent in the UK, they just needed the right support. Having competed at numerous IMMAF tournaments I felt I could give advice from a position of experience.”

Doyle knew the talent existed, including a number of potential rivals on the national circuit. Nevertheless, her ambition was to create the best possible team to represent the nation. It was a simple yet effective approach of informative outreach and inspiration through the expression of a collective benefit for all involved.

“I knew most of the amateur fighters in the UK as I was always looking for opponents for myself, as promoters struggled to match me,” she explained. “I simply messaged them to attend the trials, where they expressed the same problems that I had with local shows. Speaking with the athletes I could explain the tournament format and that they would get multiple fights on their record.” 

Less than six months following her appearance as the UK’s only woman competing at the European Open, Doyle had constructed a women’s contingent of six athletes for the 2018 World Championships alongside fellow women’s team coaches James Doyle and Mark Spencer. Top standout Megan Morris emerged to sensationally win the junior bantamweight title and earn a nomination for junior athlete of the year.

Doyle celebrates with Megan Morris and fellow coach Mark Spencer following World Championships victory.

The women’s evolution only continued. The 2019 European Open headed to Rome, now with a lineup of 10 women representing the UK.

“It felt amazing!”, Doyle recalled. ” I was really proud of how all the team came together to support each other, even if they were in the same weight category. From our first tournament as a team we picked up medals and titles which continued the momentum we had built at the trials and training days.” 

With Doyle now serving as the women’s team coach, the nation’s representatives bound for Rome included the athletes listed below. As a nation, the UK would would reach an incredible second place in the junior European Open medal table, picking up 7 medals (3 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze), 3 of which were secured by the women’s team including champions Milly Horkan, Izzy Mitchell and silver medalist Shannon Troup who was forced to withdraw from the final for medical reasons. Megan Morris and Melissa Mullins each secured a silver medal in the senior European Open divisions with the UK team firing on all cylinders and collecting medals across the board.

Lexi Rook joined UK team as a champion prospect and remains undefeated on the UK circuit.

Junior Team Athletes (ages 18-20)
Strawweight – Liv Taylor – Sunderland
Strawweight – Shannon Troup (1-1) – Edingburgh
Bantamweight – Milly Horkan – Middlesbrough
Lightweight – Izzy Mitchell – Manchester
Senior Team Athletes (18+)
Flyweight – Levi Steedman – Manchester
Bantamweight – Charlotte Brown – Rochdale
Bantamweight – Lexi Rook – East Sussex
Featherweight – Melissa Mullins – Coventry
Strawweight – Marie Spencer – Yorkshire
Flyweight – Megan Morris – Blackburn

The dissolution of the UKMMAF ushered the new English MMA Association (EMMAA), with the existing national team and majority of coaches remaining unchanged, now as Team England, who would secure 4 medals at the 2019 Junior World Championships with Milly Horkan (pictured below) adding world championships gold to her European crown.

“I think the sport has grown to a point where more women are interested in taking classes be it jiu jitsu or kickboxing,” Doyle added.“I think certain projects can draw numbers such as ladies only and beginner classes. It is essential as a coach to recognise the goals of a student as some want to keep it recreational and others may move towards competition.”

While further elevating the national team and setting off on a prestigious international pathway, Doyle’s team of prominent standouts hail from across a countrywide talent pool. Doyle’s vision has came to fruition with a fine example set for how informative outreach and enthusiasm can build bridges that see inspiring results within a fragmented national scene. While continued work is required to support and sustain the Team England’s development, these fresh role models have taken to the stage with potential to inspire participation in MMA for women from all walks of life.

By IMMAF.org lead writer: Jorden Curran

IMMAF Governance gets boost with new Youth Development Commission

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION

IMMAF is delighted to introduce the new Youth Development Commission, which will be working closely with other Commissions and Committees to manage the huge demand for amateur MMA youth programmes all over the world.

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “Our experience with our first Youth World Championships last year proved the point that MMA has massive appeal for young combat sport athletes. As the legitimate world governing body for amateur MMA, we have a responsibility and mission to make the sport accessible and safe for youngsters, with rules and procedures that are fit for purpose.”

To acknowledge its strategic importance, the Youth Development Commission will have both a chairman, Stanislav Nedkov (BUL) and a vice-chair Danny Corr (Northern Ireland). Stanislav is a former UFC professional fighter and now a sport administrator while Danny Corr is responsible for creating award-winning youth sport and culture initiatives.

The Youth Development Commission will help create programmes to guide young athletes on pathways for lifelong participation, competition preparation and personal development in MMA.

Because young Athlete development frameworks must be holistic and embrace the complex nature of athlete development, this Committee will cover Coaching, Regulatory affairs, Medical, Anti-doping and Ethics.

Members 2019-2021

Chairperson: Stanislav Nedkov (BUL)

Members:

Sharif Bapu (IND)
Danny Corr (GBR)
Zanna Kim (KAZ)
Bertrand Amoussou (FRA)
Vito Paolinio (ITA)
Raul Salas Navarro (MEX)

Staff Liaison: Andrew Moshanov (RUS)

COACHING COMMISSION

Another key IMMAF Commission is the Coaching Commission, and IMMAF is pleased to announce a new membership team led by Richie Cranny of Australia. Richie is a former professional MMA athlete, coach and founder of the highly successful “Wimp 2 Warrior” training scheme to train inexperienced individuals in MMA techniques.

The Coaching Commission provides strategic direction and leadership to ensure that IMMAF coaches have the most up-to-date level of competency and can deliver effective teaching of the skills of mixed martial arts to their membership. The Commission will provide a coach’s perspective and voice to the decision-making processes within IMMAF and advocates for the rights and interests of coaches within the sport of Amateur Mixed Martial Arts globally.

Both Commissions share an IMMAF Staff Liaison in the highly experienced Andrew Moshanov, IMMAF’s Director of Sport Development.

Coaching Commission 2019-2021

Chairperson: Richie Cranny (AUS)

Members:

Gennady Kapshai (RUS)
Luis Barneto (POR)
Lutz Heyden (GER)
Bertrand Amoussou (FRA)
Paolo Oliveira (NZL)
Anton Blank (UKR)

Staff Liaison: Andrew Moshanov (GBR)