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IMMAA respond to Minister of Sport’s accusation following Joao Carvalho inquest

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Octagon Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) has issued a response to Ireland’s Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross.

Following Thursday’s inquest into the death of MMA fighter Joao Carvalho — who died two days after competing at an MMA event in Dublin in April 2016 — Minister Ross suggested that it was IMMAA’s fault that MMA had not been regulated in Ireland.

“MMA leaders here in Ireland are deliberately dragging their feet on the establishment of appropriate governance and safety standards,” said Ross in a statement.

On Friday evening, IMMAA refuted his comments in a statement of its own.

9th February 2018: Today the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross publicly accused the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association of “dragging its feet” in the establishment of appropriate governance and safety standards for the sport of MMA. He asked of IMMAA, what is taking so long?

It is therefore in the public’s interest that IMMAA refutes this accusation openly. Unfortunately, the Minister’s remarks can only be the result of misinformation.

Indeed, IMMAA proactively fulfils its duties as the national governing body for Irish MMA despite lack of official recognition, the main barrier to recognition being administrative.

When IMMAA (formerly IAPA) applied to Sport Ireland for official recognition in 2016, it was informed as per Sport Ireland procedure that it would need three years of financial transactions before it could be recognised. It is beyond IMMAA’s powers to speed up bureaucratic process or to grant itself legal mandate to enforce its regulations. In spite of that, Irish MMA’s 100% voluntary adherence to IMMAA protocol since the organisation’s establishment in April 2016 proves the commitment of Ireland’s MMA leaders to establishing appropriate governance and safety standards in the sport of MMA, against all odds and in the face of opposition.

Since the tragic passing of Joao Carvalho, every MMA promoter in Ireland has voluntarily worked to implement IMMAA’s stringent safety protocol, which includes the independent, medical preclearance services of voluntary organisation, Safe MMA. This can be demonstrated by medical records from all those events. In addition, all events have been commissioned and officiated by IMMAA officials to ensure safety standards are adhered to.

It is worth noting that IMMAA’s amateur MMA safety standards already far exceed those of any other amateur martial art/combat sport, and our professional requirements are comparable with those of professional boxing. The third party medical preclearance and advisory services implemented by IMMAA are unique in sport; and Irish MMA under IMMAA can reasonably boast the most advanced medical protocols in the world for MMA, which it has sustained for over 18 months without any legal mandate. International promoters holding arena events in Ireland have also complied with the standards set and adopted by the Irish MMA community under IMMAA.

Further to this, in line with the IABA (Boxing), the IAWA (wrestling), the IJA (Judo) and Kickboxing Ireland, IMMAA has secured dedicated insurance for its member clubs. IMMAA successfully petitioned the Garda for the mandate to vet its members despite its lack of recognition so that now MMA coaches can be fully vetted. IMMAA members also became the first coaches anywhere in the world to be awarded MMA coaching licenses by our international association, the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation. Self-funding Irish MMA athletes and coaches have won World and Continental Championship medals for their country under IMMAA but remain largely unacknowledged.

It has even been asserted that IMMAA is not a legal entity, when this is simply not true. IMMAA is a limited company registered as “NGB IMMAA” with the CRO (company number: 598102).

It is solely the commitment and hard work of IMMAA’s voluntary committee members and the Irish MMA community that has made all of the above possible.

Minister, IMMAA fully agrees with you that the recognition and regulation of MMA should not take so long, and we would welcome a meeting to discuss how the protection and governance of MMA’s participants can be most quickly progressed in Ireland.