Competitor Safety Ladder sees Swedish amateurs progress to national team

Picture: Anja Saxmark (left) receives her silver medal at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA from SMMAF and IMMAF founder August Wallen As the founding nation of IMMAF, Sweden and the Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation (SMMAF) boasts some of the best and most effective government relations seen anywhere in the world for the sport of MMA. The direct effects of this can be seen in each and every competing Swedish fighter from the moment they begin their grass roots amateur career and throughout their days in the professional ranks. The results of this will be on display at the IMMAF European Open Championships of Amateur MMA later this month, taking place from November 19-22 at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus Sports Centre. The Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation is the national governing body for MMA in Sweden. In 2006 the Minister of Sports proposed a ban on various full contact sports and among them MMA, but following a campaign by the founders of SMMAF and a wide range of people from the martial arts community, the government changed their position. MMA was regulated and the SMMAF received a government license to sanction MMA on all levels, permitting MMA competition in Sweden only if sanctioned by the SMMAF under tightly agreed legal stipulations. The SMMAF exercises governance on many levels such as regulating clubs, providing coaching education and looking after all stakeholders in the sport from recreational participants all the way up to professional elite athletes. In collaboration with the Swedish government, the implementation of the SMMAF’s participant progression scheme has proved a successful guide for developing amateurs through various levels of competition. The mandatory SMMAF Competitor Safety Ladder holds safe and consistent athletic progression is the cornerstone. As practitioners increase their proficiency and competition experience they move through levels of low impact, to semi-full contact, to full contact, to high level amateur MMA and then to national professional rules (as illustrated below). Unified Rules are allowed only as the highest level of full contact MMA and matches must be assessed on a case by case basis.  SMMAF To date the Swedish national team has proved a good advertisement for the progression scheme. In 2014 four silver medals were earned for Sweden by Gabriella Ringblom (Women’s Flyweight),  Jill Holmström (Women’s Featherweight), Joel Moya (Men’s Featherweight) and Jimmie Jensen (Men’s Lightweight); while Alexander Pärleros scored a bronze medal in the Men’s Heavweight category. Amateur athletes returning to compete in the European Open after medalling in the 2015 IMMAF World Championships include Men’s Flyweight silver medallist and number 2 seed, Serdar Altas; Women’s Flyweight silver medallist and number 2 seed, Anja Saxmark; and Women’s Bantamweight bronze medallist and number 3 seed, Lisa Engelke. The Swedish team ranks fourth in the world in the IMMAF World Amateur MMA Rankings, after USA, Italy and Canada. Sweden can boast one of the largest teams to compete at the IMMAF European Open Championships. Headed by Team Coach, Christer Ringblom, the full team of Swedish amateurs who have progressed to represent their nation includes:

Team Sweden
Team Sweden for the 2015 IMMAF European Championships
Anja Saxmark, Female 125 Gabriella Ringblom,  Female 135 Lisa Engelke,  Female 135 Cornelia Holm,  Female 145 Filippa Ikoona,  Female Serdar Altas,  Male 125 Renato Vidovic,  Male 135 Ante Agneby,  Male 145 Joel Moya Schondorff, Male 145 Johan Andersson, Male 155 Nermin Mehmedagic, Male 155 Axel Karlsson, Male 170 Oskar Karlstrom Biller, Male 170 Daniel Hurtig, Male 185 Rostem Akman, Male 185 Robin Enontekio, Male 205 Irman Smajic, Male 265 Adam Westlund, Male Laurence Day  Male  

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