By Caoilte de Barra
In March of 2021, the Malta Mixed Martial Arts Association (MMMAA) were approved as a member federation of IMMAF. They worked tirelessly to become established and officially launched in March of this year. Federation president Karl Misfud was at the helm of the work done.
Karl introduced Malta to MMA over twenty years ago and is the head coach of Fight Legion Malta. After being approached to take on the Malta application, he understood that the task of putting together a federation would not come easy but was committed to the development of the sport in Malta. Speaking about the process involved, he said:
“The process was not an easy one. First, we had to find the right people that are trustworthy and had the same purpose in mind. That is to set up a federation that gives recognition to the sport of MMA and set up a new standard for the sport.
“We faced many challenges and are still facing them. There was a lot of paperwork to be done, and with the help of the council members, we completed it. Unfortunately, after a lot of hard work, the sports authorities in Malta were not so helpful, and the sport has not been recognised yet, which is very disappointing.”
Despite the sport not getting recognised, the MMMAA are working hard to attain this. As well as their push for recognition, they hope to achieve certified gradings under IMMAF. To help with that process, Karl and Enrico Manicaro travelled to Romania to attend a course delivered by IMMAF Director of Development Andrew Moshanov. An experience which Karl spoke of highly.
“It was a great experience that I did with my longtime friend and student Enrico. As we are both coaches of the Maltese National Team, we needed the course to be certified by IMMAF. Andrew is a great coach and an encyclopedia of knowledge. The course covered many interesting things from concussions, coaching strategies, kids training safety and more.
“The level and amount of information was incredible. I’ve been in Martial Arts for more than 30 years, and some concepts and information was all new to me. So we were very lucky to be able to attend the course. Also, I want to take the opportunity to thank the Romanian Federation for their invitation and a very warm welcome. I hope that in the future we have more collaborations with them. Everything was supported by the government, which is a great thing for the sport.”
Having attended the course, Karl believes the new standards will be pivotal in the development of the sport, especially for younger athletes.
“The course will set new standards for coaching, not just technical, but also on fighter safety which is a subject that is many times neglected, especially with youths. If, from a younger age, they are not trained properly and protected from unnecessary injuries, especially blows to the head, they can have serious damage for all their lives. So the course covered a very important aspect and concept of youth coaching. All this will benefit Maltese athletes.”
With the course completed, Karl hopes to keep the momentum going and continue to grow the sport in Malta. He even hopes to send a national team to an IMMAF competition soon.
“The next step is to keep growing and build the federation and the sport as much as possible in Malta. As a sport, it is still growing. People see it just as a competitive event and not as a system of self-defence and sport in general, so this will be a challenge. I believe we have a couple of good athletes who could soon be ready for the high level of the IMMAF Championships. I hope that this year we could be in one of the events and make history for the sport.”