On July 2018, the landscape of the global Mixed Martial Arts scene changed forever.
It was in this month that the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) and World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) inked an amalgamation agreement.
The merger of these two global MMA governing bodies had huge implications, the waves of which didn’t take much time to hit India.
Prior to their agreement, IMMAF and WMMA separately recognized two different governing bodies in India. IMMAF had affiliated All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) while WMMAA had recognised MMA India – National Sports Federation.
However, in September 2018 a letter sent out by the newly unified global body started making rounds in the Indian MMA social media circles. The gist of the letter was simple: MMA India – National Sports Federation was the only recognized MMA governing body in India.
This raised a plethora of questions. The most important one was regarding AIMMAA.
Why did the unified IMMAF-WMMAA body fail to recognize AIMMAA, one of the oldest MMA governing bodies in India?
From an informed source to IMMAF, this one question took us to many places.
The newly registered AIMMAA Company and IMMAF
On 11 April 2018 All India Mixed Martial Arts Association (AIMMAA) was registered as a non-profit private company with Alan Fenandes and Jitendra Jain as the directors. This was apart from the already existing trust registered back in 2004.
The new company registration was pointed out as a potential reason for AIMMAA losing its IMMAF recognition by our source.
While IMMAF is yet to respond to our mails regarding the issue, in one of its letters IMMAF has mentioned that AIMMAA is ‘dissolved’.
AIMMAA, on the other hand, gave a statement saying that the whole IMMAF chapter is a result of miscommunication. According to AIMMAA, not only was IMMAF misinformed about the newly formed company but certain false information was also catered to IMMAF by individuals who have interests against the Indian governing body.
Interestingly, AIMMAA went on to add that they are still in talks with IMMAF regarding their membership. This statement, however, does not go hand in hand with the ‘dissolved’ usage from IMMAF mentioned earlier. There is one another contradiction to this statement which we will explore later in the article.
Nevertheless, a clear conclusion on the matter cannot be attained unless IMMAF is willing to speak out.
UPDATE: Below is the official statement from IMMAF on the issue.
AIMMAA’s membership was immediately revoked following confirmation that the body, headed by Mr. Alan Fernandes, had dissolved its status as a registered non-profit organisation, without notifying IMMAF, before registering under the same name as a private body. IMMAF membership criteria state that all members must be democratic and registered as a non-profit organization.
The legal side and the democracy in AIMMAA
The reason why AIMMAA registered as a new company puzzled many. As per AIMMAA, the same was done to have two separate bodies for pro-MMA and Amateur MMA. While the initial trust which was registered back in 2004 will oversee the Amateur MMA scene, the newly registered non-profit private company will be governing the pro-MMA scene.
The decision to form such a company was made by the founding board of directors of AIMMAA.
“The working committee of AIMMAA was not informed about such a formation. Also, the Board of Directors of AIMMAA are basically from the same family. So how are they making decisions for a national governing body by sitting around in a family table when it should be a democratic process,” Our source points out.
Our source further went on to add that the organisation is not democratic.
“The working members have not disclosed any proper financial details. No one knows whose name the bank accounts are in and how the funds are managed. Not only this, most of us are restricted from talking directly to sponsors, media and promotions. And how do they elect the board of directors and how do they elect the working committee? Two years back, they did online voting. How can the delegates of such a big organisation are elected with online voting and not in the AGM?” he added.
While AIMMAA has denied the claim that it is not a democratic organisation, they refused to talk further about the founding board of directors and how elections are held for them.
The body, did, however, provide us with the details of the Online voting they held back in 2016 to select the National working committee.
As for the legal side, after consulting with our lawyers, it was found that there is nothing wrong in registering two non-profit organizations under the same name. Following a democratic process, meanwhile, is mandatory in both cases.
The new International body in the mix and the Aftermath
A couple of weeks back, the MMA world was introduced to a new International Governing body, Global Mixed Martial Arts Federation (GMMAF). While the information regarding the body is still scarce, AIMMAA has announced that they are now affiliated under GMMAF.
As mentioned earlier, the whereabouts of GMMAF is still unknown for most parts but a video uploaded on their Facebook page suggests that it will cover all aspects of the sport.
While the legitimacy of GMMAF is still up in the air, the Indian MMA scene has gone back to where it was before the IMMAF-WMMAA merger.
A lot of questions are still unanswered and a lot of answers are still incomplete. And with Avi Mittal taking over as Honourary Chairman of AIMMAA, let’s hope a greater element of transparency is introduced into how things are run.
Meanwhile, MMA India Show will be on point with our coverage of all things MMA in India and all other promotions and associated governing bodies; asking the right questions and striving for the betterment of the sport in the country.
What do you think about the whole situation? Let us know in the comments section below.