An IMMAF delegation led by President Kerrith Brown, Board Director Bertrand Amoussou and CEO Densign White visited City Hall in Paris as well as the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) last week to take part in discussions about MMA in France, where there is now a fast growing audience for MMA events both in France and abroad.
As representatives of the only recognized International Federation for amateur MMA in France, the IMMAF team took part in meetings with their colleagues at the French Mixed Martial Arts Federation (FMMAF) as well as the UFC, whose representatives included Lawrence Epstein, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, David Shaw, Senior Vice President for International and Content and Ivette Fernandez, Vice President, for Government Relations.
A highlight of the 2-day visit on 14-15 March was a meeting at the magnificent “Hôtel de Ville” (Paris City Hall) with Pierre Rabadan – Sports advisor to the Paris Mayor – who was accompanied by Karim Ziady – Councilor in Charge of Sports and Cedric Elisabeth – Deputy Chief of Staff to the sports advisor.
IMMAF expressed its commitment to helping the FMMAF grow and structure amateur MMA in France and raised the possibility of a future IMMAF Championship event in Paris, organized by FMMAF.
Rabadan said he was grateful that the City of Paris had the chance to better understand MMA, both at the amateur and professional levels – and was open to the possibility of working together to build projects which helped to develop this sport in France.
As a former captain of the top rugby club Stade Francais, Rabadan has been part of the cabinet of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, since 2015. He is now on the Board of the Organising Committee of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.
The meeting at City Hall was an opportunity for IMMAF to express its ongoing support for the role played by the French Boxing Federation (FFB) who act as the “delegated” Federation who will build the necessary structures and rule sets to nurture FMMAF as it grows strong enough to be able to govern MMA as an independent organization. The hard work of the FFB was acknowledged, especially as President Dominique Nato, Technical Director Lionel Brezephin and Director of Administration Jean Baptiste Marsaud all combine their work in MMA with “day jobs” running the sport of boxing in France.
The final meetings of the day for the IMMAF delegation took place at the French National Olympic Sports Committee CNOSF, which is the representative body for the International Olympic Committee in France. General Secretary Didier Séminet, who was also former President of the International Softball federation, was able to share his thoughts not only on the impressive development of MMA in France but also on the need for IMMAF to continue its lobbying efforts to gain formal recognition by GAISF and the IOC as the legitimate representative of a thriving sport.
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown said:
“We had a very busy schedule in Paris, and it was a pleasure to share our experiences, challenges, and goals with senior representatives of French sport and local government. I would like to thank them for their hospitality and openness in discussion how we can all work together to ensure a healthy future for the sport of MMA. We look forward to continuing the discussions, working shoulder to shoulder with FMMAF, and are excited not only about the prospect of seeing the first UFC event in Paris, which is bound to increase interest in our sport, but also in hosting an IMMAF amateur competition before too long. I believe France is destined to become a powerhouse for MMA and I am excited that IMMAF is part of this journey.”