IMMAF chief executive Densign White has described the GAISF decision to reject his organisation's latest bid for recognition as being "as shocking as it is antiquated" ©IMMAF

International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) chief executive Densign White has described the Global Association of International Sports Federations' (GAISF) latest rejection of his organisation’s bid for official recognition as "shocking" and "antiquated", likening the umbrella body to a "Gentleman’s Club".

The former British judoka was reacting to a letter from GAISF director Philippe Gueisbuhler confirming IMMAF's recognition bid had been turned down.

"We regret to inform you that following a thorough discussion the GAISF Council has resolved not to grant the GAISF’s observer status to IMMAF," Gueisbuhler wrote.

In a statement, the IMMAF - which relocated its office from Sweden to Lausanne earlier this month - said the GAISF decision came despite the mixed martial arts governing body "meeting all known criteria for sport recognition and having engaged with GAISF throughout three application processes over four years".

The IMMAF claimed GAISF had not given any reason why its application had been rejected "neither was any prior notice given to IMMAF of the decision-making meeting taking place on June 19".

The decision from the GAISF marks the latest episode in a protracted dispute between the umbrella organisation and the IMMAF, which has been consistently turned down for recognition by the GAISF, having applied multiple times since 2016.

White, who won the 1990 Commonwealth middleweight title and is married to Moscow 1980 javelin gold medallist Tessa Sanderson, said: "This treatment of IMMAF is as shocking as it is antiquated.

"International sport would seem to be run effectively by a 'Gentlemen’s Club' with no requirement for accountability, transparency, representation or any other markers of good governance, despite the impact their decision-making has on sports participants and communities worldwide.

"We urge GAISF to emerge from the era in which the modern Olympic Movement was born and become accountable as is demanded of every other modern governance body in every other sector.

"For avoidance of doubt, we have advised GAISF that we wish our application to remain active and we will continue to campaign and fight for justice."

The GAISF letter rejecting the IMMAF's latest application for sport recognition ©IMMAF
The GAISF letter rejecting the IMMAF's latest application for sport recognition ©IMMAF

IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, a lightweight bronze medallist for Britain in judo at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, added: "Despite IMMAF meeting all known criteria, GAISF has continually refused to give any consistent or clear answers to IMMAF through our four years of willing engagement with them.

"They will not give any explanation for their decision.

"They will not tell us who was in the meeting.

"They will not tell us who had powers of decision over our application, nor will they tell us which combat sports have objected.

"They still have not explained why some martial arts have said MMA is incompatible with them.

"The chief executive and I have been chastised for being aggressive for asking these questions.”

The IMMAF launched a public petition in May as part of its battle to gain recognition from GAISF.

The petition was established on behalf of stakeholders across mixed martial arts, demanding formal recognition of the sport by the Olympic Movement and Governments around the world.

At the time, an IMMAF statement accused GAISF of rejecting the IMMAF application due to "political reasons."

White claimed earlier this year the GAISF had been changing the goalposts when dealing with the IMMAF's bid for observer status.

He said the umbrella body had turned down its request on grounds of "non-compatibility", a term White insisted had never been mentioned before and which refers to similarities in mixed martial arts with other combat sports.