The Gifts of Respect and Friendship in MMA

Sport will forever posses the unique power to unite people from across the globe with mutual respect and admiration, in both times of peace and struggle. One of history’s most iconic examples remains the Western Front’s Christmas Truce in 1914 where British and German soldiers came out of the trenches to exchange seasons greetings and take part in football matches on the fields of no-man’s land. In more modern times, examples have marked inspiring moments of respect and social development, whether it be the wrestling trifecta of Iran, the USA, and Russia meeting for competition on the grounds of good sportsmanship; France’s victory at the FIFA World Cup 98 with a team that reflected the country’s multi-racial society and forever changed the nation’s perception of football; South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph that symbolised the “Rainbow Nation’s” new era, or when Muhammed Ali and George Foreman took the glamour of heavyweight boxing in the United States and sparked an electric atmosphere with one of the sport’s all time greatest showcases in Zaire, Africa. In 2015 the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has been proud to witness events of social unity across its member nations, including the terrific work of Ireland’s Ulster Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association (UAMMAA), whose community efforts in the name of MMA has united youths from various conflicting backgrounds and promoted mutual respect and acceptance. Also this year, we saw two nations with an intense historic and sporting rivalry, India and Pakistan, unite to form a joint commission of MMA officials  (pictured) for an India vs Pakistan MMA Championship in Dubai in February, under AIMMAA and PAK-MMA. Meanwhile, charity Fight For Peace harnesses the positive benefits that mixed martial arts can bring into participants’ lives through its youth development programme across 25 communities affected by crime, violence and social exclusion worldwide. IMMAF will be meeting for a second time with Fight For Peace in early 2016 to investigate ways in which the two organisations may work together. The close of a year typically brings a time of reflection: IMMAF believes in the sporting values that form the heart of MMA and promotes its development as an activity that is accessible to all for safe and appropriate participation. The IMMAF looks forward to another progressive year for the sport, in which its great capacity for fostering respect and friendship may be driven by its members to touch more peoples’ lives.

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