IMMAF Elections: Board Candidates for Asia

  The first IMMAF Annual General Meeting is to take place on Friday 10th July in Las Vegas (USA), during the 2015 IMMAF World Championships at UFC® International Fight Week. The Annual General Meeting, which will be attended by delegates from 43 member countries, marks the occasion of IMMAF’s first board elections. Since formation in 2012, a founding board has presided which now consists of 6 board directors. With the IMMAF statutes allowing for 9 directors, there remain positions available for 3 more. To ensure continuity, the existing board directors will continue for either 2 or 4 years in order to stagger the electoral process moving forwards. IMMAF was founded in Europe and all current board directors hail from the continent. In the interest of better representing IMMAF’s membership, the board positions have been opened to applications from candidates from the following regions: Asia, Africa and Oceania. One representative may be elected from each each region by member vote. Here we take a look at the 3 candidates from Asia; Daniel Isaac (India), Masakazu Sakai (Japan) and Wissam Abi Nader (Lebanon)  


All India Mixed Martial Arts Association / AIMMAA

Dan_IsaacDaniel Isaac began his martial arts training at the age of 5 in Oriental Martial Arts, also known as Ishudo. It is a blend of striking, grappling and submission manoeuvres and was founded by his father, the late great grandmaster Solomon Isaac. Between 1985 and 1990 Daniel won every major full contact karate and taekwondo event in his weight category in India. By 1992 he was already a five-time National Champion in kickboxing and went on to garner international honours by winning the World Kickboxing title as a flyweight. In June 1994 Daniel won the gold medal at the WAKO Kickboxing Olympics of Hersoness to become India’s first ever World Champion kickboxer and retired undefeated as a professional in 1995. He has trained martial arts students all over India, including the officers and recruits of the Indian Army and Air Force. In 2000 Daniel began promoting Mixed Martial Arts by organising national and international amateur championships. He established Tigers Gym, India’s first MMA training facility, and his students have gone on to represent India in Muay Thai, kickboxing, Sambo, Pankration and in amateur and professional MMA events. As a fighter consultant, Daniel has worked alongside MMA promotions across Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including Legend Fighting Championships Hong Kong, Martial Combat ADFC , Art of War FC, One FC and Super Fight League. Daniel is currently using his vast experience at the grassroots level of the sport, acting as a consultant to promote AIMMAA’s successful format in neighbouring countries in Asia and the Middle East. He has been instrumental in the formation of the Bahrain MMA Federation and with Pakistan’s Bashir Ahmad has brought together Indian and Pakistani MMA officials for the first time for Super Fight League’s India versus Pakistan event in Dubai.  


Japan MMA Federation / JMMAF

SakaiMasakazu Sakai is the current Pancrase CEO and the founder of a business empire that has been at the forefront of combat sports development in Japan. As a consultant Sakai became involved in Hustle, a pro-wrestling promotion and was responsible for the development of new formats including Hustle Live and Hustle Aid 2009. He founded his own wrestling and martial arts organisation, SMASH, in 2010 and was able to help the unemployed fighters and staff from the now defunct Hustle. By the end of 2010, SMASH was a sell-out event and with 24 more events sold-out the organisation earned the nickname “The Winning Team” under Sakai’s leadership. In 2012, SMASH Inc. acquired the ownership and business rights to MMA Pancrase, installing Sakai as the CEO. The goal, to market Pancrase on a global scale. This saw the introduction of a fighter management team, a support network for overseas fighters, the creation of a Pancrase USA branch, overseas gym and finally the use of a cage as opposed to a ring at events. Under Sakai’s guidance, Pancrase has found its audience on terrestrial Japanese television and is engaging a wider audience with the sport. Sakai has surrounded himself with experts of MMA throughout his time as Pancrase CEO to ensure that fighters are supported from amateur level right through to acquiring professional status. He also had the foresight to recognise the business opportunities that MMA offers and created his own brand in PANCRASE Energy Drink. As of May 2015, the Sakai lead JMMAF is perfectly placed to campaign for the introduction of MMA as an Olympic sport with Tokyo gearing up to host the 2020 Games.  


 Lebanese Mixed Martial Arts Committee / LMMA

Wissam Abi NaderHaving started training in Judo aged five, Wissam Abi Nader has developed a deep understanding of the core principles of all martial arts – respect, discipline, hard work and the physical challenge. As Wissam progressed, he started to compete in Judo at national and international level. Among the many accolades he won in the sport Wissam can boast to being a 12-time consecutive Lebanese Judo champion, 1st West Asian Ju-Jitsu champion, he was runner-up in the Asian Sambo championships and placed 3rd in the Sambo World Cup in 2011. His success lead him into coaching and to eventually form his own team which also competed at international level. He was also given the honour of coaching the Lebanese National Sambo and Combat Sambo teams, with the latter placing first four-years running at the Arab Championships. It was in 2001 that Wissam became hooked on MMA and is a pioneer of the sport’s development in the region. He is responsible, along with IMMAF consultant Dr Nadim Nassif, for creating the first MMA club in Lebanon. This lead to the formation of the Lebanese Mixed Martial Arts Committee. Wissam had the foresight to govern MMA under the umbrella of the already established Lebanese Judo Federation and has seen the sport go from strength to strength. After organising the first Lebanese MMA Championship in 2010, Wissam was elected president of the Lebanese MMA Committee and oversaw the first ever Arab amateur MMA championship. Although a solid base, there was more to be achieved for Wissam who saw MMA as a sport that needed a structure from grassroots to professional level. He worked closely with FILA, a recognised sports federation by the Internal Olympic Committee, and this relationship lead him to the IMMAF. Wissam is adamant the IMMAF must play a key role in ensuring that a grassroots structure is in place that will help the sport flourish and ultimately be recognised as an Olympic sport.   See here for information on candidates representing Africa: See here for information on candidates representing Oceania:   [/spb_text_block]

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