Grand Master Sami Kiblawi Talks Facts and The LMMAF

Lebanese Mixed Martial Arts Federation, the beginning stripped bare.


Lebanon is one country it’s said corruption rules the majority across the different industries. The local sports world in particular has recently been criticized for illegitimate arrangements; specially the newly formed MMA federation. Allegations of questionable moves have surfaced about the process of the creation and handling of the federation. We sat down and asked Grand Master Sami Kiblawi of Team Shogun to see what this master of experience has to say on the matter.

For a long time, the world of MMA in Lebanon was without a federation. What exactly is a federation and what was present beforehand? A federation is defined as “an encompassing political or societal entity formed by uniting smaller or more localized entities: as a: a federal government b: a union of organizations” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Usually a federation is formed to bridge different entities together under one unit, where standards and regulations can be created and implemented to have some form of order and protection for its members. Lebanon had been running on the authority of a MMA council of sort, a loosely formed arrangement of communication and organization between different people associated with martial arts. All that changed during November 2015 when the fully formed Lebanese Mixed Martial Arts Federation (LMMAF) came about, headed by Sayed Khalil Nassour as revealed in the press conference held in the Movenpick Hotel, Beirut.

Any minute or massive step towards improving the standards of the up and coming sport of MMA should be appreciated and welcomed. An interview on the matter was given by one of a heavy number of decades of experience within Martial Arts, Team Shogun’s Grand Master Sami Kiblawi.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Grand Masters accomplishments and credentials, he is the pioneer of Kick Boxing and Muay Thai in Lebanon and all Arab countries, founder of the Lebanese Kick Boxing Federation in 1989, founder of the Muay Thai Federation in 1998, President of the Lebanese and Arabs Muay Thai Federation, Vice President of the Asian Muay Thai Federation (FAMA), Vice President of the International Muay Thai Federation (IFMA), and Godfather of the Lebanese Tai Kwan Do, Jiu Jitsu and MMA Federation.

(Though he may not be a member within the LMMAF, he has worked hard to help its creation along with his comprehensive involvement in the progression of Martial Arts in Lebanon and the Region.)

Q- First of all, when it comes to Journalism within the Arab world of sports, there are some who disagree and fight against the reporting of certain information. What do you have to say about journalists covering information as it is, and those who try to sway the information for their own benefit or restrain information from being published?

A- “It is a major mistake not to respect journalism and the journalist. As long as the journalist reports true information, and their analysis is based on true events and evidence, it is helpful information for the people. Having facts published is not a problem, and it isn’t something people should fear.”

Q- In other words, media is a communication medium that should be able to do its job through the use of reliable and valid information. Now, to get straight to it, you are aware that there have been several accusations against the Lebanese MMA federation (how it was organized, who the members are, and how it’s being run). As one of incredible experience within the realm of martial arts from numerous organizations, in the country and the surrounding region, tell us: What are your thoughts about the legitimacy of the newly created MMA federation? What can you tell us about how the organization began?

A- “Let’s go back a bit, to how it was organized. The story of how which people were appointed to head it. As it was to start at its launch, it had been discussed and organized to be a set of people to be in place other than those appointed now. The problem, like in many business organizations and federation, is that when it comes to certain positions, selfishness and politics can over power the original point and essence of the organization. In the two days before the dawn of the Federation, everything was altered. The main idea was for those who deal with the MMA scene properly, were to head and be members. Some however were against some gyms or other members, some wanted different arrangements and what have you. This lead to certain parties referring to political affiliations and alliances to alter the outcome as three different groups wanted the federation to lean a certain way. The strongest of which came out on top.

It was the only chance to have the federation actually created, then and there or none at all, so it came out as it is.”

Q- What do you have to say about gyms and members who have not abided by the MMA Federation rules, regulations, or agreements since its inauguration?

A- “Everyone should work under the federation, from its beginning. At first you enter, and if one doesn’t approve of or has disagreements with its way of running, they should still stay within the federation to protect their fighters. Let’s put it in example form; The President of Lebanon. If someone doesn’t like the something, they don’t tear and throw their Passport; as a Lebanese one has to agree with and remain under the umbrella of those that run the country, like the umbrella of the federation.

The statistics are that all gyms from around the country are inside the federation, except for perhaps two. There are two gyms/teams only that are not within the Federation.

A real sportsman, even if they don’t agree with something, should understand that it’s not fair to take it out on members, or vice versa take a member out of the organization. Not under any excuse.”

Q- How would gyms, members, and the general public get hold of the rules and regulations of the MMA federation? Are they published?

A- “The standard regulations of the different sports are published, and anyone can access them. Usually you login into the sports federation and all is available to read. Or for example, one can request the rules from the sports federation themselves and they will give a copy.

I have 35years experience, 21years of those in administration, as General Secretary and President. I have dealt with, and until this day still deal with all sorts of fighters, coaches, and clubs. I would like to say this, a clear message of experience backed advice; everyone must work under the federation’s umbrella.”

Q- One such as yourself, with the vast amount of experience you do have, why aren’t you a member or head of the MMA federation?

A- “I have been working with, in and for the sport of Muay Thai, over the last 20 years. I prefer it, its rich history. We are too close to the Olympics and this is what I am focused on. Maybe when this mission is accomplished.

A very important point is that I believe that there are many people who can lead these days. Before we judge we just need to give them some time, at least a year, to prove themselves in that position as a leader.”

Q- What could someone work towards for example if they are not happy with the current choice of Federation members?

A- “It is not the private sector, or private clubs we are dealing with, especially when it comes to the amateur side. Later on for example, in elections that will come after four years to elect the heads through democracy, people can choose and change things.

I would like to end by reminding people that we, Team Shogun, the biggest MMA club in Lebanon, were the first people to apply to the federation. With humility I would like to say that I am one among many people who worked to bring up this federation. For all colleagues and clubs, we now have an official federation; a home. Do not burn or destroy it. We work together and help each other to keep this federation and work for it.”

There you have it, the words of wisdom on the LMMAF from one who has practical experienced within the ways of administration in the sports world, only on ArabsMMA.

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