Emirati hopeful for top job in new jiu jitsu union

Al Hasmi could be Asian governing body's first leader

The UAE has been one of the driving forces behind jiu jitsu's rise in popularity in the Middle East. Sammy Dallal / The National
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Abdulmunam Al Hashmi, the president of the UAE Jiu Jitsu Federation, hopes to win Asia’s top post when elections for a new continent-wide governing body are held in Abu Dhabi.

The Jiu Jitsu International Federation (JJIF) is hosting a forum on Sunday that will be followed by an election to pick members for the Asian Jiu Jitsu Union (AJJU), which is being established for the first time.

Representatives from the 22 countries will be at Etihad Towers in the capital on Sunday.

Al Hashmi is in pole position for the top post, with candidates from Japan, South Korea and Kazakhstan also to contest the election.

Panagiotis Theadoropoulos, the president of the JJIF, believes Al Hashmi has a good chance of earning the main job, given the role the UAE has played in pushing the sport forward in the Middle East.

“In my opinion, the UAE has played a pioneering role to develop and promote the sport and they are the popular choice,” he said.

“They have already proved they are very serious in what they do by hosting many competitions and staging trials around the world. They also have the finances and the organisational acumen to take the sport forward.”

In the UAE, the sport enjoys the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Theadoropoulos said he believes that with such backing and at the rate jiu-jitsu has been growing, particularly in the Middle East, the JJIF’s goal should be for the sport to reach Olympic status.

“Obviously we need to work hard because every sport wants to have a representation in the Olympics,” he said.

“At the moment we are very satisfied because we participated in the World Games for many years. We need a lot of time to get in to the Olympics and, with the establishment of the AJJU, the process can speed up.”

The new Asian body will work with the Olympic Council of Asia to work towards this goal.

“We’re going to restructure to have one unique and strong organisation promoting the sport in Asia,” said Joachim Thumfart, the JJIF director.

He said the development of the sport has been hindered because of too many schools of the martial art forming their own federations.

“Asia needs to build a good leadership and the UAE has been supporting it strongly. They have the strongest development programme that I know of,” Thumfart said.

“They have set up training centres around the country, sent trainers into the schools, staged international competitions with attractive prize money to draw the best competitors from around the world.

“Now they have taken the role to bring Asia under one umbrella, which is the best that could have happened to take jiu-jitsu to the next level.”