IOC President Thomas Bach was in the Ukrainian capital Kiev at the weekend to celebrate 30 years of the country’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) with NOC President Sergey Bubka and to meet the nation’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, but amateur MMA was also invited to the party.
After arriving in Prague as leader of Ukraine MMA Federation team that finished on top of the Senior World Cup medal table, Vice President Anton Blank then caught a plane back home to Kiev as one of the invited guests at a gala celebration held in the presence of 200 Ukrainian Olympians, among them 116 Olympic medallists.
“I believe that this was a clear sign of the respect being shown to our Federation, and MMA, in the country.” Blank told the IMMAF website. “Olympic legend Sergey Bubka, who is also President of our NOC, made it clear that he was fully aware of the great success of Ukraine at the recent IMMAF World Youth Championships and he is now following our progress extremely closely. It was certainly an honour to meet the IOC President Thomas Bach as part of the Ukrainian sport movement.”
MMA Ukraine, which recently gained recognition from its Sports Ministry to oversee the nation’s development within the sport, is certainly going from strength to strength.
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said: “I commend Anton Blank and Ukraine MMA for working so hard to build close relationships with the sport authorities in their country. In all my meetings with National Federations I stress the importance of work done at national level, not only by IMMAF, in terms of lobbying and sport diplomacy. It is through good governance and great communication that we will one day show we have earned the right to be an Olympic sport.”