By James Sweetnam
On the third day of his trip to Athens, IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown, met with a selection of Greece’s finest Olympians.
The members of the Greek Olympic Union support the Panhellenic MMA Federation. They share the ideology that the principle of competition is always the same, no matter what discipline somebody competes in. Brown hopes that MMA can become an Olympic sport, in which athletes from all over the globe can compete at the highest possible level.
The 59-year-old discussed the importance of social media with Greek Olympic committee member and water polo player Voula Kozompoli. The new generation of athletes in modern society invariably have to navigate the hurdles of social media. Sportsmen and women can use this to build their brand and indeed their company’s reputation, but both fighters and promotional outlets must know how to use their platform effectively.
Athletes can permanently damage their careers if they post inappropriate content on their social media pages. Children, in particular, are naive to the dangers of the internet and don’t fully understand that a questionable post can stay with them for the rest of their life.
IMMAF implements and shares social media guidelines with other companies on the best way to keep athletes safe. Educating parents and coaches of youth fighters is of paramount importance to best help our future stars. In addition, IMMAF are also strong anti-doping-campaigners, and they implement their WADA strategy to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The Panhellenic MMA Federation has also implemented strict criteria for head coaches in Greece. According to Weight Lifting World Champion Anna Stroumbou, all potential trainers must undergo IMMAF courses to learn the essential aspects of the job. The fighters must be trained by experts to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Paralympian, Gannis Kostakis, listened intently as Brown discussed the importance of fighter safety. IMMAF utilises strict rules in under-18 contests to protect the athletes, such as no headshots. The most important aspect of the amateur game is to help the fighters develop in a safe setting.
The Brit also discussed the strategy of increasing female participation in sport management. Kozompoli and Wrestling Olympian and General Secretary of the Greek Olympic Union, Voula Zigouri, are working on the Greek Project. Their ambition is to encourage more women to get involved in mixed martial arts.
IMMAF and the Panhellenic MMA Federation both have a lot left to achieve. But it looks like the two sanctioning bodies will work together to change the landscape of the sport for the better.
President Brown’s trip was not over with the IMMAF President also taking part in an MMA festival on Sunday. With the two federations combining forces, the sky’s the limit, and some of the athletes on display at that event, could one day find themselves competing at the Olympic Games.