International Mixed Martial Arts Federation president, Bertrand Amoussou, has responded to the latest verbal attack on the sport of MMA by French Judo Federation president Jean Luc Rougé.
Speaking to French magazine, L’Equipe, Rougé recently stated that anyone in judo caught teaching MMA will be removed from the French Judo Federation. Further to this he made negative allegations about the sport, which is a hybrid of Olympic and other martial arts including judo, karate, boxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu and Thai boxing.
A former French national judo champion and European judo medallist himself, IMMAF President Bertrand Amoussou said:
“The latest statement made by the president of the French Judo Federation, Jean Luc Rougé, threatening to ban judo coaches from teaching MMA in France, is a characteristic abuse of power.
“For some time, Mr Rougé has made it his mission to fight MMA on every front: Firstly he has forbidden world ranked judo athletes from competing in other disciplines. Then he worked hard to break the sponsorship deal between the UFC and British Judo for the forthcoming European Judo Championships, resulting in the removal of the championships from England. Now this latest announcement really raises questions about the motivations of this individual to persecute a sport which is garnering more and more followers worldwide.
“As a judoka, I am saddened because I know that the opinion of French judo president Rougé is not the opinion of all the followers of judo in France. Judo coaches that teach MMA have found that this new discipline is a way of developing their clubs by welcoming both older and new participants.
“It is significant that 80 % of the 515 000 participants of judo in France are under 12 years old. Also many judo teachers have multi-discipline academies which allow for them to teach other disciplines besides judo. We will wait for the reaction of these coaches, but I do not think that Rougé’s threat is an effective approach since federations only exist thanks to their members.”
This year’s European Judo Championships were set to be hosted by Glasgow in April, but were suspiciously removed on short notice and handed to Baku, Azerbaijan following news that the European Judo Union threatened to cancel the event altogether if top MMA promotion, the UFC, did not withdraw their sponsorship of the event.