- NEW PROMOTION AND SANCTIONING IN JAPAN

October 15, 2007
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by Taro Kotani – MMAWeekly.com
TOKYO – The beginnings of a new promotional company, World Victory Road Inc. (WVR), and a sanctioning body for mixed martial arts, Japan Mixed Martial Arts Federation (JMM), were announced at a press conference Monday in Tokyo.

At the press conference, Naoya Kinoshita (CEO, Kinoshita Koumuten Inc.) was introduced as the chief executive officer for WVR. In addition, Tomiaki Fukuda (chairman, Japan Wrestling Federation & vice president of FILA) will serve as the president of the JMM and Takao Yasuda (CEO, Don Quijote Inc.) was installed as the vice president on the new sanctioning body.

The purpose of JMM is to improve the sport by overseeing the fighters, interacting with various MMA organizations, creating programs for developing fighters, educating referees, and maintaining rules for MMA. JMM will be working closely with a commission committee, which was also announced, to enforce the compliance and morals the group sets forth of MMA.

Here are the comments made by the three guests at the press conference.

NAOYA KINOSHITA (CEO, WVR):
“MMA in Japan seems to be on the downside. Japan was the place where MMA was born and our country had great passion for MMA. But looking at the current state of MMA in Japan, the sport is in danger of disappearing. Therefore a number of us have stepped in and have decided to form a federation.

I have been a fan of martial arts myself. But the world of sports in Japan is now flooding with mirthless news such as what has happened in sumo and boxing. I feel this should not be the condition of sports. It should be a place for dreams and hope.

I would like the sport of MMA, which was born in Japan, to be recognized around the world. In order to do that somebody had to take the lead and I decided to do that myself. I would like to give the fans and the fighters, who are training hard, some type of opportunities by assembling this new company.

MMA carries a lot of unclear aspects, but I would like to solve those issues by cooperating with the sanctioning commission, JMM. By doing so, the sport will be managed at a more clear and fair level. That is exactly what the fans and the fighters have been looking for.

The name of the event that we will be holding is undecided at this point. Events are made with fans, fighters, and the media. We will decide the name of the event by inviting names from our fans.”

TOMIAKI FUKUDA (PRESIDENT, JMM):
“Japan has no federation for MMA and there is no federation for MMA in other countries, as well. We decided to organize a federation in order to establish MMA as a sport. FILA has been given the order of unifying martial arts by the International Olympic Committee.

This past September, there was the ethnic martial arts event in Turkey. There were Sambo, grappling, beach wrestling and there were showcases of Indian and African martial arts as well. We want to see MMA participate in this event in the future.

We want to establish MMA as a sport in Japan and eventually have its establishment around the globe. This is why we have decided to form a federation. It is currently not a corporate organization, but we would like to construct the federation step by step.

TAKAO YASUDA (VICE PRESIDENT, JMM):
“Right now, MMA is in a sense a minor sport. But in terms of the number of fans and competitors, MMA is definitely a major sport. But because it lacks the notification as a sport, its publicity had been limited. Sports magazines and MMA magazines have been instrumental in covering MMA but what about daily newspapers or national television coverage? MMA is a sport of fierce competition but it never seems to be recognized by the national media.

As you know, Pride is no longer in shape to host shows, leaving the fighters with no place to go. Fighters train hard every day. But right now they have no place to show their skills that they have honed through all the blood and sweat. I feel this is an irrational situation for the fighters.

MMA needs more recognition. I, in some ways, have no relation to the world of MMA. At this point, I have very little power. But I decided to step in because the fighters are literally fighting all the irrationality of not having a place to show who they are and what they are made of.

Our company, Don Quijote, is supported by the public. MMA is one of the few events supported by the public. We, as a public company, will support WVR and JMM in full regards.”

Answering questions from the press, Mr. Kinoshita explained that this plan had been in the works for the last six months or so. It originally started when he and his partners found out that Pride World Wide was no longer able to hold shows.

He also pointed out that the first event is not yet scheduled, but will be announced soon. Even though no names were mentioned, the newly installed CEO stressed that the quality of fighters who will be participating in the events will be higher than what fans might expect.

There were comments about WVR’s desire to cooperate with other MMA organizations, but details as to how and what they would do were not disclosed.

Regarding the employees who were dismissed by Pride World Wide, Mr. Kinoshita said he would welcome them if they were talented and willing to support WVR.

A television deal is also in the works, but no further information was revealed.

Mr. Fukuda answered a number of questions regarding the rules, saying that the federation would like to have few limitations, but at the same time would get rid of dangerous moves such as soccer kicks, knee bars and attacking the spine.

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