Former IMMAF World Champion Manon Fiorot and Ciryl Gane, two rising French stars at UFC, took time out of their training schedules to support a French association called “Colosse aux pieds d’argile” (the giant with feet of clay) which works to raise awareness, and try to prevent, sexual violence, hazing and harassment in sport.
Created in 2013, the association was born from the personal story of Sébastien Boueilh, former rugby player and victim of a paedophile from the age of 12 to 16. After 18 years of silence and following the trial of his attacker, Sébastien decided to set up Colosse aux pieds d’argile to protect others from what he went through.
Sébastien hosted a live Q&A session for members of French MMA clubs, where he was able to provide information and answer questions from Manon and Ciryl, as well as the audience, on how to spot risks, what measures were needed to protect young people and how to support victims.
“Above all, the most important thing is to talk when an issue arises,” said Sebastien; “It is crucial that young people, from the age of 12, are given direct and clear advice and are encouraged to speak up, especially to their peers. Staying silent can lead to serious physical and mential health issues, so the priority is to open up and to talk. ”
As well as speaking up in support of the initiatives carried out by Colosse aux pieds d’argile, Manon and Ciryl were glad to answer a related question about how to encourage more women to take part in MMA and feel safe doing so. “It’s really important to feel relaxed about taking part in MMA, as there are now lots of opportunities with clubs offering women’s sections.” said Ciryl. “The physical, mental and social benefits of getting involved in MMA are huge.”
Manon said she “strongly encouraged women to seek out local clubs and to feel confident that the sport would provide a welcoming, fun and safe environment to take part in the sport.”
Recognised as a public service organisation in November 2020, the association’s missions are to raise awareness of the risks of sexual violence, hazing and harassment, to train professionals supervising children and to provide support and assistance to victims. It works for the protection of both children and educators. The association, which has 8 regional centres, has given talks to 200,000 children, supported 1,800 victims and heard evidence from 4,000 witnesses. The UFC is now supporting the association which is backed by the French Ministry of Sport, French Olympic Committee and 35 sport federations, clubs and partners from the French sport industry and media. For more information please go to: https://colosseauxpiedsdargile.org