Sambo Association of Uzbekistan intends to increase the number of athletes involved in mixed martial arts. MMA, which is sometimes called fights without rules. MMA started developing in Uzbekistan officially since 2013, under the patronage of Sambo Association. Uzbekistan Today talks to the President of Sambo Association, Ravshan Akhmedzhanov.
Ravshan Akhmatovich, how is the progress of popularization of MMA in Uzbekistan?
- Very slow. But it’s normal. Let's remember how we developed karate, which came to the Republic in the 1970s. It took 40 years for it to be recognized. I think things will go faster, after all, we live in the age of modern information and communication technologies, which helps us to actively promote the MMA.
What hinders the involvement of more and more guys in this sport ?
- People’s perceptions about this sport, they still often refer to MMA as fights without rules. It’s a little bit disappointing: what is fights without rules? The rules and coach and judge at competitions in the sport - are required. People speculate on the legality of work in this sport and often come to wrong conclusions. MMA in Uzbekistan is an official sport. Coaches, like all the others are certified and licensed by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Sport, they receive salaries and pay taxes. Another reason people are reluctant to get involved in the sport is the risk of injury. Which is also a myth. In fact, the risk of injuries is no less and no more than in other martial arts. Anyway, there is no injury-free sport, it is no accident that even in medicine there is a separate segment for sports traumatology. We have to maintain a large outreach. MMA is a beautiful dynamic sport that combines a variety of techniques, schools and styles of martial arts.
Why Sambo Association began to patronize the development of this sport?
- Perhaps because MMA techniques most closely resemble Sambo .
In your opinion, why should mixed martial arts developed in Uzbekistan?
- In 2013, when we took this sport under our wing, there already existed the MMA section. That's when they worked semi-legally. There were good coaches and talented athletes, but they did not go beyond the walls, where they were training. They needed an organization that would deal with administrative matters. So they joined the Association of Sambo. Now we organize championships in the Republic, prepare the athletes to compete internationally.
- What can MMA give a guy? Self-confidence, psychological stability, strict daily routine, healthy lifestyle, employment and a good upbringing. The country needs such people, with this, I think no one will argue. We are contributing to the training of personnel for law enforcement agencies of the state. World experience shows from those involved in Sambo, MMA subsequently often chose their profession in the uniformed services.
Well, in the end, there must be an alternative for our young people to choose from, not all of them want to learn karate, judo and taekwondo.
You say our athletes travel to international competitions. What heights have they achieved there?
- They participated in the Asian Championship twice and twice returned with silver medals, second only to Kazakhstan. As for the World Championships we participated twice, and both times brought the bronze medal. By the way, more than 60 countries participate in MMA World Championships. Let's see what the results will be this year. I think guys like Islomjon Asimov and Mirzohid Hasanov are quite able to take the gold. They are now training with the coaches.
How are you planning to achieve popularity among young people?
- Advocacy. This year we plan to publish booklets and other printed materials, through which we will explain that MMA is recognized worldwide. We will make every possible effort to popularize the sport: social networking, word of mouth and through colleges.