Yesterday a positive preliminary meeting took place between Minister Michael Ring, a representative of Sport Ireland, Professor Dan Healy and senior civil servants. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of MMA (mixed martial arts) in Ireland, its regulation and safety measures at competitions.
Ireland now has close to 100 MMA clubs across the country, the majority of which have active competitive MMA teams under the Irish Amateur Pankration Association (IAPA)
Over the course of the next few weeks, a series of meetings are to take place between the IAPA and government officials to commence work towards regulating our sport efficiently and safely.
Although the professional end of the sport receives the most media attention, it only represents the tip of the iceberg. MMA is enjoyed both recreationally and at an amateur level by many 1000s nationwide; and I, as President of the IAPA, look forward to a meaningful dialogue with our government as we set about putting in place best practice for MMA clubs and constructive support at the grass roots level. MMA is only growing in popularity and, just like any other sport, we need our own national governing body working in partnership with Sport Ireland as we enable many young athletes to train and compete.
Last year, the IAPA sent a team of amateur MMA competitors to compete in international championship events under the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF). We were able to successfully represent Ireland at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA in Las Vegas and at the 2015 IMMAF European Open in Birmingham (UK), winning gold medals at both. This year we are preparing a full team to represent the Republic of Ireland in the 2016 IMMAF World Championships.
I see this acknowledgment by the Sports Minister and government officials as a very positive first step towards our excellent athletes receiving the same level of support and recognition as Ireland's fantastic national sports teams do when they travel and represent their country. We have a lot of work to do, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I'm happy that after nearly 20 years of promoting MMA in Ireland to be making that first step.
The Irish Amateur Pankration Association (IAPA) is an associated body of national governing body, the Irish Amateur Wrestling Association (IAWA). It is made up of IAWA affiliated club members from wrestling, grappling and the martial arts community in the Republic of Ireland. It also enjoys the support of a network of gyms, athletes and promoters.
- John Kavanagh, SBG Ireland