SAFE MMA Has Parted Ways With IMMAF

MMA UK has learned that Safe MMA, the globally renowned charity who was founded by medical experts to ensure the safety of athletes, has parted ways with IMMAF.

The development comes following the recommendation of Detective Superintendent Will Lexton-Jones. A high-ranking officer serving with Scotland Yard, Lexton-Jones recently announced his resignation as Chairman of the IMMAF Disciplinary Board. Serious concerns have been raised about IMMAF’s safeguarding and child protection practices, with Lexton-Jones’ resignation letter citing malpractice and a lack of capacity of competence to reform.

The IMMAF board members have previously been the subject of alleged corruption allegations and mismanagement. With the additional safeguarding and child-protecting controversies, both Lexton-Jones and Safe MMA have moved to end their association. Safe MMA has already removed any mentions of IMMAF on its website and it has made an official request that mentions of its organization is removed any IMMAF property and materials. The nature of the safeguarding and child protection concerns remains unknown.

IMMAF CEO Densign White has confirmed the suspension of a coach from a national federation. However, IMMAF has controversially decided to keep the details confidential and has done little to reassure its stakeholders that measures have been put in place to stop reoccurrences.

A history of controversy and mismanagement The President of The IMMAF is Kerrith Brown. An Olympic bronze medallist, Brown was stripped of his accolade after testing positive for a banned substance at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. In 2015, he was forced to step down of his role as chairman of the British Judo Association. Brown refused to cooperate with an investigation into his conduct, and was then found to be attempting to broker a deal between the British Judo Association and the Combat Sports Federation, which he “stood financially to benefit” from. It was revealed that Brown was actually a director of the Combat Sports Federation. This debacle also caused Glasgow to be stripped of its hosting rights when the European Judo championships got switched to Baku on eight weeks’ notice. The Hamlin report stated that Brown was “almost entirely” to blame.

You can read more about brown being blamed for Glasgow’s loss of the 2015 European championship here

The review into the circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of the right to stage the European Judo Championships 2015 from the British  Judo can be found here 

The Chief Strategy Officer is Nick Davies. The official was previously the Chief of Staff at the International Amateur Athletics Federation until he too was the subject of a scathing investigation. Davies was expelled from the athletics’ governing body after admitting he took up to €30,000 in payments to cover up Russian doping, and then mislead the investigation.

You can read more on that here

The CEO of IMMAF is Densign White MBE. Previously Chairman of the British Judo Association during the 2012 London Olympics, White oversaw the organization’s disappointing performance at the Olympics despite its £7.5m funding. The official was embroiled in a bitter dispute with athletes, having questioned their desire and commitment.

Winston Gordon who competed at those Olympics fired back at White, stating .that “when a fish rots, it rots from the head. If someone is coming out with those comments, then they have to look on themselves and see what they have done to help everything else come through.” Athletes pointed out that White competed at three Olympic Games himself between 1984 and 1992, but failed to achieve to win a medal.

When the above three are involved, in alleged corruption, mismanagement, and failure to take responsibility closely follow. And with the departures of a high-ranking detective such as Lexton-Jones and the universally respected Safe MMA, there is clearly a deep-rooted institutional problem. The goal of The IMMAF is to ultimately achieve Olympic recognition for the sport of MMA. But with White, Brown and Davies pulling the strings, the task seems impossible.

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