Jesse Derris sent along the following:
MMA Veterans Launch WAMMA–First Sanctioning Body for Sport
WAMMA — World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts — Will Rank Fighters, Establish Unified Rules, Ensure Safety of Fighters, Sanction World Championship Bouts
Central Sanctioning Body Sets Stage for the First Inter-Promoter Fight Cards
NEW YORK–With MMA growing into a mainstream sporting power, a team of business and combat sport veterans today launched WAMMA, the first sanctioning body for the burgeoning sport. The World Alliance of Mixed Martial (WAMMA) will create the first weight division ranking system for MMA fighters, establish unified rules for the sport, ensure the safety and welfare of the fighters, and sanction world championship bouts. Most important, it will provide unifying legitimacy to the sport by enabling the best fighters in the world to face off against each other, no matter the promotion they work for.
WAMMA will be headed up by President and CEO David Szady, a retired 33-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During his career with the FBI, David served as Assistant Director for Counter Intelligence, as a Presidential appointee as the first National Counter Intelligence Executive, and two years as the head of the CIA’s Counter Espionage Group.
“WAMMA is here to stay,” said Szady. “All of the promotions have great fighters and deserving champions, but there are simply too many champions in too many varying weight divisions — it is confusing to the average fan. WAMMA will change that by sanctioning unified world championship fights, increasing the integrity and viability of the sport for the fighters and the fans, while at the same detracting nothing from individual MMA promotions.”
WAMMA was announced at a press conference today at Gallagher’s Steak House in New York. The press conference was lead by David Szady along with former wrestling star Bill Goldberg, MMA Legends Pat Miletich and Don Frye, noted boxing manager Godwin Asifo, and nationally known attorney Michael Lynch.
To rank fighters by weight division, WAMMA has established an independent ranking committee composed of some of the most knowledgeable figures in the MMA world. The ranking committee will operate much as the panel of sportswriters who determine the Associated Press college football and basketball rankings does. It will operate independently of the WAMMA management, which will have no influence over the rankings. The committee will be responsible for ranking the top-10 fighters in each weight division and recognizing a unified champion in each.
In addition to the ranking committee, WAMMA has established committees to oversee three other areas:
International MMA Relations
Referee and Judge Evaluations
WAMMA is also proud to announce that the world-renowned Andrews Institute and famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews have agreed to serve as the sanctioning body’s Medical Advisory Board. This partnership will enable WAMMA to enhance its ability to care for fighters both in and out of the ring.
WAMMA’s “Gloves” insignia was designed and created for the organization by LeRoy Neiman, the world famous American artist best known for his brilliantly colored images of sporting events and figures.
“We couldn’t have been more honored to have LeRoy Neiman supporting us,” said Michael Lynch, Executive Vice President and COO of WAMMA. “To have someone of his stature design our insignia speaks to the support WAMMA has already received from the sports world.”
WAMMA Officer Biographies
Dave Szady is the President and CEO of WAMMA.
A former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, Dave comes to WAMMA with more than 33 years of service in the FBI, including 27 years experience in espionage and foreign counterintelligence (CI) investigations. He served the last four years as assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, where he helped develop a new CI strategy to deal with current threats to the nation. Prior to this, he was appointed as the National Counterintelligence Executive, a position created by a Presidential Decision Directive in December 2000.
After joining the FBI in 1971, Dave worked on general criminal investigative matters until 1975. He then served in the FBI’s Washington field office and worked in the bureau’s Foreign Counterintelligence program, establishing himself as a Soviet expert. In 1997, Dave was appointed to the position of chief of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center's Counterespionage Group. For this service, he was awarded the CIA’s Directorate of Operations Donovan Award and the Agency Seal Medallion. In 1999, he was appointed Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Portland Division, where he was responsible for all FBI operations in Oregon until receiving his appointment as National Counterintelligence Executive.
Michael B. Lynch is a founding partner of WAMMA and serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the organization.
Mr. Lynch brings to WAMMA his genuine love of sports and athletics, an extensive knowledge of Mixed Martial Arts and exceptional business and legal acumen. He is regarded by his peers as one of most dynamic attorneys in America and has handled negotiations and representation of MMA superstars. Mr. Lynch and is a nationally recognized attorney in the area of complex litigation and has lectured extensively across the country.
Fred Levin, WAMMA’s Executive Legal Counselor, is a nationally known lawyer who has handled legal matters and negotiations for Roy Jones, Jr., at one time considered “the best pound-for-pound boxer” in the world. Fred was the recipient of the 1995 Boxing Writers Association of America Manager of the Year award and the 1994 Rocky Marciano Award recipient as Manager of the Year.
Fred Levin is also one of the most successful trial attorneys in the country. He is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an organization limited to 100 members throughout the country, and has been listed in every edition of the publication “Best Lawyers in America.”
Bill Goldberg or simply “Goldberg” to his millions of fans, is a founding partner and Vice President of WAMMA.
From a career in the National Football League, to one of World Wrestling Entertaiment’s most popular global stars, to a star of television and film, Bill Goldberg possesses a rare combination of athletic ability and on-camera presence.
Bill’s knowledge of Mixed Martial Arts and work behind the microphone in recent years as a guest analyst for Pride Fighting Championships and World Fighting Alliance pay-per-view events has earned him a position on the SHOWTIME Sports announce team televising ProElite and EliteXC MMA events.
Kay Stephenson is a founding partner and Vice President of WAMMA.
Kay’s management and business acumen stems from his stints as a professional football coach from 1975-1998. When he became head coach for the Buffalo Bills in 1983, Stephenson was the youngest coach ever in the National Football League. In addition to the Buffalo Bills, Mr. Stephenson coached professional football teams in the World Football League and the Canadian Football League, including World Champions the Sacramento Surge and Western Championship contenders the Edmonton Eskimos.
Prior to his professional coaching career, he played professional football for the San Diego Chargers, the Buffalo Bills, and the Jacksonville Sharks. Kay played collegiate football at the University of Florida.
Godwin Asifo serves as a Vice President of WAMMA.
Godwin’s passion for combat sports extends deeply to mixed martial arts. Godwin and his family have promoted boxing, wrestling and martial arts contests dating since 1979. His efforts have produced bonafide world champions like Ike Quartey, Asumah Nelson and Nana Konadu
His involvement in the promotion and management of Ike Quartey, in partnership with celebrated lawyer Fred Levin, culminated in some of the biggest mega-fights of our time. The events include Quartey’s notable world championship fights with Oscar De la Hoya and Fernando Vargas.
Godwin brings to WAMMA years of experience in the fighting arts as a member of the tight fraternity of world championship boxing. Promoters, trainers and managers have called upon Godwin to render opinion and advice on key business and promotion issues. Godwin also has been involved in the supply of fighters in Europe, Africa and the North America and utilizes this international knowledge and experience in his role as Chair of WAMMA’s International Relations Committee.
David Barnes brings to WAMMA over 30 years of production experience in projects of all types.
Originally trained as a still photographer, Dave has over 700 industrial films, 2000 commercials and 200 1/2-hour television shows to his credit. His areas of expertise include HD Video, as well as 16 and 35 millimeter film.
Dave has been instrumental in the filming and production of television shows, marketing films, educational product, entertainment programs, commercials and Infomercials. His work has been showcased in productions for The History Channel: Bone-Yards Show; CBS’s 60 minutes, Evening News, and 48 hours; NBC’s Dateline and Today Show; ABC’s Primetime, 20-20, and Nightline; CNN; MTV; HBO Productions; and FOX sports.
Wayne K. Stephenson is a Certified Public Account and brings to WAMMA over 30 years of experience in business management, strategic planning, budgeting, due diligence financial reporting and accounting. Wayne received his BA degree at the University of West Florida.
Pete Kaufman serves as an attorney/advisor to the Legal Department of WAMMA. Mr. Kaufman is a trial attorney with extensive litigation and negotiations experience. He is a veteran of the United States Army and a graduate of the Defense Language Institute. Pete served with the 3d Armored Division, 533d Military Intelligence Battalion in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Select WAMMA Ranking Committee Member Biographies
Sam Caplan, a Philadelphia-based sports radio talk show host and freelance sports writer who has covered the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball, will Chair the WAMMA Ranking Committee.
Caplan’s primary focus is MMA as a contributing writer to CBSSports.com and FIGHT! Magazine. He is also the publisher and editor of the highly-respected MMA blog FiveOuncesOfPain.com and the co-host of Inside the Cage Radio.
Oliver Copp is a 12-year veteran of pro wrestling and MMA broadcasting based in Munich, Germany. Copp started in television in the mid-90s as a pro wrestling commentator and hotline host for companies such as World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling and AAA.
A full-time television executive with European media giant ProSiebenSat1 Group by trade, he has been the German voice of the Ultimate Fighting Championship since UFC 39. Besides doing commentary for the UFC, Copp currently covers mixed martial arts for German magazines “Ringside” and “Power Wrestling” and is acting editor-in-chief of the German edition of “WWE Magazine”.
Nelson “Doc” Hamilton has been a licensed kickboxing referee in California since 1986. He also is a licensed MMA ring official in Nevada and New Jersey. Doc has worked as a referee and/or judge for the UFC, PRIDE, KOTC, SHOOTO, WFA, IFC, GLADIATOR CHALLENGE, MUAY THAI, and K-1.
Based upon his knowledge of the martial arts and his reputation in that community, he was appointed on four separate occasions to serve in an advisory capacity to the California State Athletic Commission. Having served eight years as an advisor, he has been instrumental in writing and re-writing the rules governing kickboxing and MMA in California.
“Doc” has been a student and instructor of martial arts since 1973. He holds advanced ranks in both Judo and Hawaiian Kenpo.
Todd Martin has followed MMA since the beginning of the sport, and covered it as a reporter for over five years. His work has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Wrestling Observer, SI.com and CBS Sportsline. Todd lives in Los Angeles and has a degree from UCLA School of Law.
Alex Marvez is a senior writer for FOXSports.com covering the NFL and MMA. He has written about MMA since the sport began to plant roots in Japan during the late 1980s/early 1990s. He is the president of the Pro Football Writers of America and writes a syndicated pro wrestling column for the Scripps-Howard News Service.
Mauro Ranallo is a Canadian sports announcer with experience in football, hockey, professional wrestling and MMA coverage. He is best known for his work as a play-by-play announcer for PRIDE FC and, more recently, Showtime for Elite XC broadcasts. He began announcing when he was 16 years old.
He is most prominently known among MMA fans as the voice of the PRIDE Fighting Championships broadcasts in North America from 2003 through October 2006. Since September 2006, he has been the lead news anchor and play-by-play announcer for the Canadian combat sports channel The Fight Network.
He also calls the MMA action on Hardcore Championship Fighting seen across Canada on the Score network.
Michael Woods covers combat sports for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He is also the editor of TheSweetScience.com, a website that focuses on boxing and also covers the MMA world. Woods worked as a staff writer at Newsday from 1999-2003. In 2002, he wrote the longest feature article on UFC to be featured in a major metropolitan newspaper at that time.
WAMMA Medical Advisory Board
Dr. James R. Andrews, orthopedic surgeon, is one of the founding members of the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center (ASMOC) and American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) in Birmingham, Alabama. He serves as Chairman and Medical Director of ASMI. He is also internationally known and recognized throughout the world for his scientific and clinical research contributions in knee, shoulder and elbow injuries, and his skill as an orthopedic surgeon.
Doctor Andrews came to Birmingham in 1986 to help form the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center. He has been the mentor for more than 150 orthopedic/sports medicine fellows and more than 30 primary care sports medicine fellows who have trained under him through the American Sports Medicine Institute Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. Involved in education and research in sports medicine and orthopedic surgery, he has made major presentations on every continent, and has authored numerous scientific articles and books.
Doctor Andrews graduated form Louisiana State University in 1963, where he was Southeastern Conference indoor and outdoor pole vault champion. He completed LSU School of Medicine in 1967, and completed his orthopedic residency at Tulane Medical School in 1972. He has surgical fellowships in sports medicine at the University of Virginia Medical School in 1972 with Doctor Frank McCue, III and at the University of Lyon, Lyn, France in 1972 with late professor Albert Trillat, M.D., who was known as the Father of European Knee Surgery.
Doctor Andrews is a member of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Orthopedic Society of Sports medicine, and currently serves as Secretary of that Board. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and International Knee Society. He is Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Alabama Birmingham Medical School, the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the University of Kentucky Medical Center, and the University of South Carolina Medical School. He has been awarded a Doctor of Laws Degree from Livingston University, Doctor of Sciences Degree from Troy State University and a Doctor of Science Degree from Louisiana State University.
At present, Doctor Andrews serves as Co-Medical Director for Intercollegiate Sports at Auburn University. He is Senior Orthopedic Consultant for Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Alabama. He is the orthopedic consultant for the athletic teams of Troy State University, University of West Alabama, Tuskegee University and Grambling University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the following companies: HealthTronics Corporation, Fast Health Corporation, American Club Systems, Banc Corporation, and Robins Morton Construction Company. He is a member of Troy State University’s Board of Trustees.
He is Senior Orthopedic Consultant for the Washington Redskins Professional Football team. He is the Medical Director of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Professional Baseball Team. He is the team physician for the Birmingham Barons Double A Professional Baseball Team, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. He currently serves on the Medical and Safety Advisory Committee of USA Baseball.
Dr. Andrews served during the last two quadrennials as a member of the Sports Medicine Committee of the United States Olympic Committee. He has also served on the NCAA Competitive Safeguards in Medial Aspects of Sports Committee.