BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
FOLLOWING the successful hosting of the first Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) technical officials and coaching training in Zimbabwe at the National Sports Stadium in November, the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZNBWCB) is targeting to host its first tournament in the country next year.
A multi-million dollar industry, MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and is watched in over 145 countries and nearly 800 million households worldwide.
Earlier in the year, Mixed Martial Arts South Africa wrote to the ZNBWCB inviting them to send representation for a training seminar, which failed to materialise due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ZNBWCB then opted to invite a former Mixed Martial Arts champion and renowned South African Mixed Martial Arts Ferdi Basson to facilitate the technical officials and coaching training in Zimbabwe last month.
Basson is also an International Mixed Martial Arts Federation accredited referee as well as founder of Junkyard MMA, a mixed martial arts club that has produced professional and amateur mixed martial artists, kick-boxers and boxers in South Africa.
The event was held on November 19 and 20.
“It was well attended. Stakeholders from diverse backgrounds spanning from multiple combat sport disciplines and corporate interests attended the two-day event,” one of the organisers of the event Eric Kandiwa said.
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“It was a successful inaugural event. If all goes according to plan, we expect to have a follow up session in the first quarter of 2022 and we expect to have the first officially sanctioned MMA tournament on Zimbabwean soil by the second half of 2022,” Kandiwa added.
The training attracted boxers, judokas, wrestlers, karatekas, technical officials of combat sport, leaders of combat sport and fitness organizations.
A number of Zimbabweans based in South Africa such as Themba Gorimbo, Elvis Moyo, Sylvester Chipfumbu and Thembani Mhlanga, among others have had to move to South Africa to take up mixed martial arts.
Gorimbo is currently the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) welterweight champion, a title he won in 2019 and has managed to defend to date.
In May this year Sylvester ‘Gladiator’ Chipfumbu became the new EFC bantamweight champion after beating Faeez Jacobs in the main event at the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) 85 event in South Africa.
“Zimbabwe has in the past two years produced two mixed martial arts champions in the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) in South Africa.
“In an effort to spread the sport in all communities and inspired by the successes of Zimbabweans in Mixed Martial Arts, Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board has added Mixed Martial Arts to its product portfolio as part of the long term strategy to develop Mixed Martial Arts Champions in Zimbabwe as well as increase opportunities for sport and recreation as enunciated in the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1.
“Our sectorial goal of increased participation in sport and recreation can be attained through availing more sport and recreation opportunities,” ZNBWCB chief executive officer Lawrence Zimbudzana said.
The two-day training course sought to introduce MMA in Zimbabwe, familiarize participants to MMA coaching fundamentals skills and to train participants to officiate and organise MMA matches.
ZNBWCB has already teamed up with a number of organizations such as Etcetera Media & Deltaforce Promotions, a combat sports promotion consortium and Perfect Design Zimbabwe among others in a bid to bring MMA to Zimbabwe.
- This article was first published in sister publication Weekly Digest