This week’s featured article is looking into the ways in which the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association have supported its members in recent years and during the Covid-19 crisis.
Despite the ongoing global health crisis due to the Covid-19 virus the association has continued to work towards its goal of achieving formal recognition of Mixed Martial Arts in Ireland.
In October 2019 we wrote to John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland to inform him that in line with the the findings/recommendations detailed in the Mixed Martial Arts Working Group Report: May 2017, that IMMAA had undertaken the necessary and recommended steps detailed in this report, to match the criteria for recognition by Sport Ireland. This included the development of a five-year strategic plan, definition of IMMAA membership, corporate governance, financial sustainability & risk management. We then looked for clarification from Sport Ireland, whether instead of seeking direct recognition by Sport Ireland that we should make an application to the Irish Martial Arts Commission (IMAC) to become an affiliated member organization. Mr. Treacy replied, welcoming the advancements made by IMMAA in implementing the recommendations made by the Working Group and encouraging further discussions between IMMAA and IMAC with regards to affiliation. To that end, a meeting was arranged between representatives of IMMAA and IMAC for January 2020. At the meeting it was agreed that IMMAA would apply for membership of IMAC. It was agreed at the IMMAA – IMAC meeting that IMMAA would apply to join IMAC. This initial application would be rejected as our international body, IMMAF, does not yet have GAISF status. IMMAA could then appeal this decision and that it would be discussed and voted on at the IMAC AGM. With regards to IMMAF’s GAISF status the following should be noted. IMMAF’s latest application for Observer Status was rejected without any reason given. To our understanding, based on all advice given hitherto by GAISF, IMMAF’s application met all criteria for recognition. IMMAF are in the process of appealing this decision. On the 9th of March IMMAA submitted a membership application to IMAC. As expected, this was rejected. We then appealed this discussion to their AGM. We requested to make a presentation at their AGM, but we were refused this request. Subsequently we were informed that this appeal was rejected. At the meeting on the 16th of January we were told that the current GAISF status rule was brought in a few years previously and could in theory be changed. Having discussed the matter privately with a person in attendance at the AGM it seems that there was no discussion that this rule would be changed. We were also told that we would not be given an opportunity to present as our application was rejected on “a singular issue” (GAISF status). It is worth noting that of the 8 martial arts which are members of IMAC only 4 have GAISF status. Their rules are such that there is one standard for existing members and different standards for potential new members. This decision was appealed by IMMAA and the appeal was rejected at the IMAC AGM in October 2020. IMMAA have gone back to Sport Ireland and looked for clarification of next steps and that we will continue to fight to become a recognised sport association.
IMMAA Treasurer Liam-Og Griffin has started the process of having the association’s accounts audited for the previous three years. This is a requirement of becoming an affiliated NGB of Sport Ireland.
IMMAA Chariman Tim Murphy has also participated in numerous radio and podcast interviews in an attempt to educate listeners about the work of the association, the progress we have made in terms of the health and safety of competitors and the obstacles we have been faced with in our battle to achieve formal recognition for Mixed Martial Arts in Ireland. You can listen to these interviews through the following links:
The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association provides insurance cover to its affiliated clubs. The cost of securing this cover has steadily increased in recent years, and in an attempt to support our member clubs the association has been absorbing the cost of the increase without passing this extra cost onto our members.
2020 saw the introduction of IMMAA individual memberships available for all members. Previous to this individual memberships were only a requirement of IMMAA representatives attending the IMMAF MMA Championships. The implementation of individual memberships is not a new concept in martial arts, almost all other martial arts require an individual fee of some sort such as Judo, Karate Kickboxing etc. The launch of individual memberships will provide us with a much stronger case to present to Sport Ireland in our fight for formal recognition of MMA as we will be presenting them with membership figures in the realm of thousands of individual members, rather than a few dozen club members. These individual memberships benefit both the member and their IMMAA affiliated club as for each individual membership purchased 15% of the price will be put towards the members gyms IMMAA membership renewal fee.The benefits for the individual IMMAA member include…
- IMMAA Official photo ID Card
- Provides access to apply for the international Irish MMA squad
- Access to participate in national MMA qualification courses such as coaching, refereeing, judging, corner-care etc.
- Access to participate in national MMA gradings
- Contributes towards national recognition of MMA
- 15% off apparel purchased from FightStore Ireland, Ring Sport Ireland, Top Pro Sports, Alpha Caveman Apparel and Blizzard Sports
- Entry to regular raffles and prize giveaways to be in with a chance of winning some top quality training gear and equipment
You can apply for your Individual IMMAA membership through the following link IMMAA Individual Membership – IMMAA (mmaireland.ie)
2020 also saw the establishment of the Irish Women’s MMA Commission, in association with the International Women’s MMA Commission supported by IMMAF. This was established with the aim to promote and encourage female involvement within Irish MMA, not only as competitive athletes but in a wide variety of roles within the sport including coaching, judging, refereeing, corner-care, announcing and many organisational and promotional positions associated with the operating of MMA clubs, and events. You can read more about the Irish Women’s MMA Commission here: Featured Article: Irish Women’s MMA Commission – IMMAA (mmaireland.ie)
We have been promoting the positive impacts the Irish MMA community and its members have had on their wider communities in a variety of ways including fundraising for charities and important causes as well as providing free self defense classes to women and children You can read more about the ways in which IMMAA affiliated gyms are working hard to support their wider communities here Featured Article: Community Initiatives – IMMAA (mmaireland.ie)
We have also published weekly featured articles promoting Irish athletes and coaches as well as various other roles within the sport such as those working in cornercare and combat sport media coverage, focusing on the positive impacts that the sport has had on their lives, the lessons they have learned through their martial arts journeys, the obstacles they have overcome along the way and their future plans and aspirations. You can learn more about our featured fighters, coaches and supporters through the following link Blog – IMMAA (mmaireland.ie)
Through the use of our social media pages we have highlighted the achievements and accomplishments of the Irish MMA community, as well as promoting the youtube channels, websites and various endeavours by our affiliated gyms in order to engage with their students during lockdown. We have also regularly informed our affiliated gyms of the updated guidelines in relation to training and gym use during each level of lockdown imposed by the government and worked closely with our affiliated clubs to ensure that their coaches have achieved official garda vetting clearance through IMMAA.
The association has also provided professional and elite status level athletes with exemption letters, allowing them to continue their training to facilitate the return of high performance athletes and teams as well as their support staff to designated training centres while complying with the current public health guidelines in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Although we were unable to host and partake in the events planned for 2020, IMMAA have continued to liaise with our international Governing body IMMAF, engaging in various online technical seminars and meetings as well as planning and preparing for future events to take place. IMMAA Vice-President Andy Ryan and Treasurer Liam-Og Griffin have been collaborating with Ulster MMA President Danny Corr in order to organise the first ever MMA gradings in Ireland as well as coordinating plans to host the 2021 squad sessions, through which the Irish International MMA team will be selected.
IMMAA Child Protection officer Kevin Moran has volunteered to take on the additional role of the IMMAA Anti-Doping officer. Kevin will be communicating with our national anti-doping agency and ensuring that each future IMMAA representative attending the IMMAF MMA Championships will achieve an anti-doping certification.