Photography by Jake Moore
Two Stockport youths head to Rome this week to compete in the first U18s MMA (mixed martial arts) World Championships for 12 – 17-year olds, under the auspices of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).
Daniel Holt (14) and Brooklyn Thomas (15) will be representing Stockport’s 12 Gauge MMA gym as part of a 26 – strong England Team, among 269 participants from 25 nations from 3 – 4 August.
Brooklyn Thomas said
“MMA keeps me off the streets and I have a lot of fun when I’m here training every day. The reason I want to compete in the world championships is that it will be an amazing experience for me, and I want to see what it will be like to compete with people from all around the world.”
Daniel Holt said:
“I love MMA because I love that there’s always something new to learn. It’s never ending. Training has made me a lot happier and a lot fitter: It is my favourite thing to do. Going to Rome will be good for my experience.”
Brooklyn’s aunt, Jane Bowden, said:
“MMA has benefitted Brooklyn massively. He started MMA in year 7 and it has made him more confident and popular. It gave him other things to do than sitting on playstation and he spends more time outdoors now and gets involved in all sports. It has also helped him with self-discipline and concentration with his schoolwork. He’s chosen Sports Science for GCSE and his PE teacher tells me he chooses to go into the library and chooses to study harder because he wants to be successful. He wants to go to Rome, and he wants to win the World Championships.”
Team Coach, Matt Thorpe of 12 Gauge MMA in Stockport, said:
“For the athlete, MMA is a huge part of their daily lives: It builds confidence, it builds respect, discipline and fitness. There are so many aspects that MMA and martial arts can help with. These young athletes that out going out to the World Championships are going to showcase this for us.”
Best known through the UFC, the controversial sport of MMA has evolved as a reformation in martial arts over the last twenty-five years, starting out as a test of skill among elite professionals. Part of IMMAF’s mission has been to develop safe training and competition pathways from a grassroots level upwards, to cater for the phenomenal participant demand for education in the skills of sport, including from recreational participants, minors and their parents.
IMMAF has set a precedent among striking combat sports with its Youth MMA rule sets which bar head-strikes for under 18s.