The 2024 GAMMA European Championships have been hosted this week in High Tatras by the Slovakian MMA association, SOMMA.

Headed by President Jan Kirschbaum, in a country where the sport receives no formal support, the federation has achieved a fantastic, seminal event for athletes from 8-years-old up to seniors, thanks to his team and family’s tireless efforts,

Not only that, but SOMMA also attained an impressive medals count in the U18s. Now, Team Slovakia also has senior athletes succeeding to tomorrow’s finals: Adam Neupauer, Koky Martin and Michal Kuzma for the Striking MMA Finals in the morning and Michal Kuzma again for the afternoon’s MMA session.

We caught up briefly with Jan on the sidelines of Senior Semi-Finals today for a quick interview.

Slovakia won 11 medals and 2 gold in the U18s. How do you perceive this success and what impact will it have in Slovakia?

Medals are always a reward for hard work. We hope that this will lead many children and youth to the sport, as they are the future of all sports, not just MMA.

 How does it feel to achieve such a successful international event in Slovakia?

 It is an amazing feeling to be an active part of GAMMA.

MMA is not formally recognized or supported as a sport in Slovakia. How easy or difficult is it to develop the sport and organise MMA events here?

The popularity of MMA in Slovakia is still rising and it is also in the public’s attention, which is great. But it is still difficult to organize competitions, especially in amateur MMA. Fortunately, passionate clubs are committed to working to organize tournaments, regardless.

What does hosting an event mean for your federation and what will the implications be?

It’s been a great honour and challenge for us. We hope that the state will notice our efforts and support us. The competition is especially financially demanding, and any support makes our work easier.

Tell us about your proudest athletes during the event? Are there any athletes who surprised you or overcame great challenges to achieve a medal?

Of course, we were surprised by and proud of the gold medallists, Drahoslav Divulit and Eliška Kapraľova. The others also did an excellent job, but luck was not on their side.

 Will you be taking the team to the World Championships in December and what are your goals?

Certainly, yes. We are already looking forward to the World Championships. We will need to assess what our financial possibilities are.

 Which athletes do you think are Team Slovakia’s best international prospects?

They are certainly our medallists, whether in the U18s divisions or among the seniors. However, as always, only time and hard work will tell.