Recent Judo Chairman Kerrith Brown Appointed as IMMAF President

IMMAF is proud to announce Kerrith Brown as the new President of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), following election by unanimous board vote in Berlin on 20th June.

Following discussions with both the EJU and the BJA Board, Kerrith Brown resigned as Chairman of the British Judo Association due to ideological differences with the leadership of the European Judo Union and the International Judo Federation and to ensure the best interests of British Judo.

Under Brown’s leadership since 2012, British Judo went from strength to strength, most markedly opening the doors of its Centre of Excellence at the University of Wolverhampton (UK) in 2013. The centre heralded the launch of a new performance programme for British athletes. Brown has also overseen a transformation in the governance of the BJA. Brown is himself a former elite level judoka, at his peak earning bronze for Great Britain at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Since his retirement from competition, he has pursued a successful career in business, as owner, manager and consultant.

This year, the British Judo Association partnered with the UFC for the scheduled European Judo Championships in Glasgow, for which the BJA had won the rights to host. The partnership proved controversial in the European judo world. It was cited by the EJU as sufficient reason to strip the rights from the BJA just 8 weeks out from the event and to move it from Glasgow to Baku. This was in spite of the UFC preventatively withdrawing its sponsorship. According to official press release, “The BJA had entered into a sponsorship agreement which did not meet the EJU values.”

Under Brown also, the BJA has significantly lent professional sports consultancy and support to the development of the United Kingdom Mixed Martial Arts Federation (UKMMAF), to enable its application for official recognition by Sport England. It was through this relationship that Brown was recommended for and voted to a position on the IMMAF Board in October 2014. Brown has featured notably in the successes of IMMAF since his involvement.

When President Bertrand Amoussou recently elected to step down from presidency due to family and work commitments, Vice-president George Sallfeldt proposed Kerrith Brown as his replacement and garnered undisputed affirmation from the board.

New IMMAF President, Kerrith Brown said:

“I do not feel the sports values that I deeply believe in are currently represented by the EJU or the IJF. It has reached a point where my position as Chairman of the BJA has become untenable, and I do not wish to create further conflict for British Judo.

“I am passionate about martial arts and I am a fan of MMA, which has a legitimate place in the martial arts family. MMA also provides the opportunity of a professional pathway for amateur sports athletes as has been most iconically demonstrated by judoka Ronda Rousey, former Olympic bronze medalist. A similar path is available in boxing and I would have welcomed such a career pathway myself as an Olympian. Conversely Judo is just one aspect of an MMA match and provides a fantastic foundation for the sport. Through the UFC, MMA has attracted an unrivalled fan base to martial arts. I feel sorry that politics has driven a wedge between these two sports in Europe, when they have so much in common, so many shared values and so much to offer each other.

“I would like to make it very clear that I do not support Marius Vizer’s opinions cited at the Sochi Convention regarding the International Olympic Committee. IMMAF fully supports the work of the IOC and Olympic values.

“As IMMAF President I hope to bring my sports administration and Olympic sport experience to bear on the obstacles that MMA faces. I am also looking forward to listening and learning from the MMA community and working hard to maintain the integrity that has made MMA so popular and trusted.”