By Jake Smith
Day two of the 2022 IMMAF African Championships has undoubtedly been the best day of the tournament for MMA Zambia, with the federation securing a spot in the Lightweight gold medal match. On finals day, they will not only compete for a gold medal but will also be receiving the IMMAF 2021 Best National Federation Award tomorrow.
IMMAF has previously highlighted the tremendous work MMA Zambia is doing regarding youth development. Following the news they had received the accolade, President Benjamin Bush discussed what the federation must do next for them to proceed further with their work. He said:
‘There is still a lot for us to do. We are determined to incorporate our Vulnerable Youth Programme into our Sports Development Programme, and we are looking forward to rolling out our National Amateur League.
‘We are determined to use the sport for positive social change to create future role models and champions.
‘We are very proud to be part of IMMAF. We share their ideals, and we are looking forward to helping them become the Olympic sport they should.’
Reflecting on becoming IMMAF’s Best National Federation, MMA Zambia President Benjamin Bush said:
‘MMA Zambia are incredibly proud to be receiving the award of the Best National Federation for 2021. It means a great deal to us. It means the hard work we have done behind the scenes, getting national recognition by our ministry of sport and national sports council of Zambia, has not gone unnoticed.’
MMA Zambia has displayed some of their wealth of talent at the 2022 IMMAF Africa Championships. As President Bush explained, he is extremely proud of the team’s efforts.
‘Mwelwa Nkhata was 1-0, took on a fighter with 16 fights experience and went the distance. Kelvin Chishimba put up a good show and Ken is now in the final against Lewis Mataya from Zimbabwe.’
A product of MMA Zambia’s success is unquestionably the aforementioned, Ken Nyaondo. His performances have seriously impressed throughout the African Championships as he pursues an IMMAF gold medal.
On day one, the Lightweight overcame Luan Tomas Shaka in emphatic style, finishing the quarter-final bout with a slick, first-round rear-naked choke. His technical skill set was on display for all to see, having to negate an early submission attempt & regroup before finding a finish of his own.
In the semi-final, he faced another Angolan; this time in the shape of Tulunda Daniel. Heading into the bout, the Zambian believed he was in for a tougher task than he’d faced previously in the competition, and he was right. After a hard-fought, 9-minute contest, the 21-year-old left with his hand raised and obtained his place in the Lightweight final.
Despite being the sole representative from his nation still competing, he is drawing on his teammates to help alleviate some of the pressure he is feeling.
‘There is some pressure but not that much. I know the guys are out of the competition, but they are here with me, in my corner. So I feel like I will be inspired by them, but I do feel pressure.’
The Championships mark Nyaondo’s maiden IMMAF appearance. Explaining his reasoning behind competing in an IMMAF championship, he said:
‘I decided to compete because IMMAF is the biggest stage of amateur sports and it’s a big platform for myself. So for me to compete on that stage is a big deal. It means a lot, and I can represent my country & put Zambia on the map for MMA!’
President Bush has high hopes that the Lightweight final will deliver a contest IMMAF viewers will remember for years to come; he even has a unique insight into the bout, having cornered both men at the championships.
‘The Zimbabwean team did not have a corner, so I stepped up and cornered Lewis for his two fights leading into the final and I’ve cornered Ken.’
‘It gives me great pleasure because it will produce the absolute best fight of the championships to date!’
You can watch all of the action from the 2022 IMMAF Africa Championships live on immaf.tv. The Championships will be free-to-view for audiences in African countries and available to immaf.tv subscribers. A Championship Pass will be available for non-subscribers from outside of Africa, providing three days of MMA action for just $4.99.