By Gilbert Munetsi
Bouyed by the popularity of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) the world over, a new organisation has come from the blue to announce it has taken over the discipline in Zimbabwe, and is now registered with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
Calling itself the Zimbabwe Mixed Martial Arts Association (ZMMAA), the body claims it is affiliated to the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (MMAIF) and has intentions to hit the ground running in terms of programmes and activities.
In a statement Thursday, the organisation said it would unroll as many as 15 events, six of which will be competitive tournaments.
The emergence of ZMMAA comes on the back of a recent announcement by the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZNBWCB) that it had also embraced MMA.
A training programme, with resource persons invited from South Africa, was conducted by the ZNBWCB late last year at the National Sports Stadium and about 50 participants were certified.
Established through an Act of Parliament (the Boxing and Wrestling Control Act Chapter 52:10), the boxing control authority then pronounced it would take MMA under its wings, following an earlier exploratory visit by officials to SA to learn how they do it across the Limpopo.
But ZMMAA president Felix Matsitsiro said it was his association’s role to regulate, govern and promote the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in the country.
“ZMMAA will be playing a role in creating progression pathways for young athletes in the amateur space on their way to becoming professional fighters and other roles involved.
“Mixed Martial Arts is a relatively new sport bidding for Olympics recognition at this time and bringing it to Zimbabwe took time, perseverance and commitment.
“It is not a purist sport that is defined by a group of martial arts or a single one, but it’s constantly evolving.
“What it therefore means is that martial arts enthusiasts, prospects, experts and beginners can practice or participate in this sport and they are its ambassadors who can help it grow,” Matsitsiro said.
He said while practicing MMA is quite expensive to the average Zimbabwean, ZMMAA had over the past four years refined and found alternative ways of making it affordable.
“Emphasis on promoting the sport will be in High-Density Suburbs where most youths reside as they are the ones who can benefit from the sport and make a living out of it,” the president added.
A highly remunerating sport in SA and the USA, MMA has seen a good number of boxers alternating between the two disciplines.
Zimbabwe heavyweight champion Elvis Moyo is an example of a boxer who has, on a couple of occasions, swapped the boxing ring for mixed martial arts. Nhau/Indaba