By Frank Bonada
The 2023 IMMAF Africa Championships are now mere days away, with anticipation reaching an all-time high. The event promises to be a celebration of African mixed martial arts, with numerous nations set to field the continent’s next generation of MMA stars.
With an impressive lineup of athletes, a stunning venue, and a promise of high-level competition, this year’s championships are set to be an unforgettable spectacle. Athletes from across the African continent will converge in Luanda, each with their own dreams of glory, ready to represent their nations on the very biggest of amateur MMA stages.
After a breakout year in 2022, Angola is looking to become the new African MMA powerhouse on the IMMAF circuit. Their success is best exemplified by their status as the 2023 IMMAF Africa Championships host nation, with the event taking place in the capital city, Luanda.
This will be the first IMMAF Africa Championships to take place outside of South Africa, serving as a huge landmark in the recent evolution of mixed martial arts in Africa. Angola will bring with them one of their biggest teams to date, featuring a host of new prospects who will compete alongside a number of returning IMMAF veterans such as Maurio Silva and Stanislau Wezy.
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown had the following to say about the historic decision to hold the Africa Championships in Angola for the very first time:
“IMMAF and FAMMA are excited to invite you to the 2023 IMMAF Africa Championships in Luanda, Angola, marking a historic and exciting moment as the event expands beyond South Africa for the first time. This is a testament to the thriving development of MMA in Africa, which improves year-on-year.
“By bringing the championships to Angola, we are building the future of MMA in the region, showcasing remarkable talent and inspiring a new generation of athletes. FAMMA’s commitment is commendable, and we anticipate an extraordinary championship that will elevate the sport and leave a lasting impact across the continent, there for the world to see.”
Angola’s primary rivals are expected to be South Africa, who have been the dominant force in the IMMAF Africa Championships ever since the event’s inception. While they may no longer be the IMMAF Africa Championships host nation, South Africa will still be looking to put on an impressive showing to reassert their status as the top dogs of the IMMAF Africa Championships. Leading the charge will be former champions Kiara Fegen and Philani Shabalala, who both return in search of the iconic and elusive ‘double champ’ status.
Another returning athlete looking to claim IMMAF Africa gold for a second time is Namibia’s Veja Hinda. The talented featherweight picked up an all-time great IMMAF Africa finish in 2022, landing a sensational head kick KO just 52 seconds into his Semi-Final bout. Also representing Namibia is Geraldo Bok, a 2022 IMMAF Africa Championships bronze medalist who competes in the same weight class as Hinda.
A potential dark horse of the 2023 IMMAF Africa Championships is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the nation buoyed by the success of their countryman, Eliezer Kubanza, a two-time IMMAF Africa champion who has since gone on to have great success in the professional ranks of MMA, currently competing under the BRAVE CF banner. The nation will have athletes competing in nine different weight classes, all looking to replicate the success of Kubanza.
The 2023 IMMAF Africa Championships will officially take place in Luanda, Angola, between September 15 and 17. The competition will be conducted per the latest IMMAF Amateur rules.