First bouts took place today in Minsk as the IFMA World Championships kicked off in the packed Sports Palace.
Bouts started just after three in the afternoon and continued until late in the evening across two rings. The stadium was packed with supporters of the Belarus national team and also various members of expat groups in the city – the Lebanese group were particularly vocal in their support!
Most of the fights were streamed live on the IFMA Youtube channel, so fans and family at home could watch the athletes. This proved a great success and allowed the competition to be truly a global event.
One of the highlights was the battle between Somayeh Khazaei from Iran and Maryia Zhuk from Belarus in the women’s 54kgs division. The two national champions faced off with great energy from the start, with the Iranian woman really driving forward with high kicks and powerful teep (push-kicks). Belarus fought back valiantly, using especially her fast hands to claw in the points.
The Iranian national women’s team is only at their second IFMA international event as women’s combat sports were banned for some years. And while many in the crowd expected Belarus to take the win at first, they soon had to change their minds as the ‘new kid on the block’ stormed home to win.
In the men’s divisions, the competition was also wide-open with Mexico making a strong standing and moving onto the next rounds. Other Pan-American countries in action included Brazil, Argentina and Peru.
As the IFMA family grows larger, many countries are bringing more athletes with them. The Moroccan team in particular stood out as they sang and uluated when their athletes won. Defending world champion Maryam El Moubarik among the supporters as she hasn’t yet competed.
And it was clear that many countries have their eye on the final World Games places as Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Kyrgstan among others sent strong teams, including defending world champions looking for another chance to shine.