Interview of the Month: Vasily Shestakov, President of FIAS

Interview of the Month: Vasily Shestakov, President of FIAS

An Honour, a Huge Success and a Responsibility

The International SAMBO Federation (FIAS) and the International Wushu Federation are the new members of The World Games family. In the IWGA Interview of the Month, the FIAS President Vasily Shestakov himself introduces his federation and his sport. Mr. Vasily Shestakov also says why SAMBO adds value to The World Games. We also presented Wushu with an interview of the President. This interview was published separately one day before this one.

1. Please be so kind as to introduce your Federation.

Vasily Shestakov: The International SAMBO Federation (FIAS) with headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, comprises 94 national member federations. FIAS is officially recognised as the world governing body for the sport of SAMBO by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It is a member of the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF) and the Global Organisation of International Sport Federations (GAISF), and SAMBO is a sport recognised by the International University Sports Federations (FISU). SAMBO is being practiced on five continents in more than 120 countries worldwide.

The FIAS key achievement is the provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that we received in November 2018. Lately, it has been reported that the IOC Executive Board has decided to recommend FIAS for granting full recognition. The recommendation will be presented at the upcoming IOC session held on 20-21 July in Tokyo, Japan. We are certainly looking forward to this day, which is so important for the entire SAMBO community.

Each year, over 30 major SAMBO competitions are staged at international level under the FIAS umbrella. The flagship events are the World Championships, World Cup, and Youth and Juniors World Championships. Thanks to development and growth in the last two decades, SAMBO athletes have had the opportunity to take part in various multisport competitions, such as the Asian and European Games and the World Combat Games, as well as the FISU World University Games.

2. What is special about SAMBO as a sport?

Vasily Shestakov: SAMBO stands for self-defence without weapons, a sport that originated in the Soviet Union back in 1938. SAMBO is an unrivalled mixture of world martial arts that blends together the most effective techniques and tactics from judo, jujitsu, sumo, freestyle wrestling, chidaoba, kurash, Greco-Roman wrestling, fist fighting, boxing and other types of martial arts, as well as even the elements of fencing, bayonet, and hand-to-hand combat.

At present, SAMBO comprises three competitive disciplines - Sport SAMBO, Combat SAMBO, and Beach SAMBO. There are other applications of SAMBO such as fitness, demonstration, for special forces and for deaf and visually impaired. Moreover, SAMBO is being developed as part of the academic curricula for university students, schools and even pre-school.

SAMBO is not just martial arts; the sport’s philosophy and values are based on an education system that leads to the development of ethics, determination and self-control.

3. What reactions did you receive from your association to the successful bid?

Vasily Shestakov: The entire SAMBO community, the athletes and all enthusiasts were positively delighted with this wonderful news. The inclusion of FIAS into the IWGA is not only a great honour and huge success for our organisation, but a responsibility for the world of SAMBO to align with and promote the IWGA values. We welcome the opportunities that IWGA platforms provides to our athletes, and every chance to assert ourselves at The World Games is extra opportunities for them.

4. Why did FIAS apply to become part of the World Games family?

Vasily Shestakov: The IWGA aim is to develop the popularity of sports, to improve their prominence through excellent sporting achievements, and to conserve all the traditional values of sport through The World Games. IWGA is a respected international sports organisation, and FIAS is honoured to become part of the family and to share the same values. Nowadays, The World Games are a spectacular multi-sport event and becoming an increasingly important part of the sporting industry that brings together the sporting organisation and disciplines that are not part of the Olympic Games. I am confident that the influence and power of the organisation will grow along with the popularity of The World Games.

5. How would you describe the asset that FIAS brings to the family as a new member?

Vasily Shestakov: I think your question implies two aspects, purely sporting and ethical.

As for the sports, I can state with confidence that the increased popularity of SAMBO in recent years and the large community of followers in households through both linear and digital contact, could be an asset to IWGA activities. The fact that our sport is pretty spectacular deserves a special mention. This is best evidenced by the overcrowded stands at multi-sport competitions, as I personally witnessed in 2017 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, during the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Also, the popularity of SAMBO is proved by the live broadcasts of our tournaments by TV companies from various countries. As an example, the 2020 World SAMBO Championships held in Novi Sad were broadcast live to more than 70 countries, and via the Eurosport TV channel as well.

Moreover, the contribution to the development of SAMBO made by such globally renowned sambists as Fedor Emelianenko and Khabib Nurmagomedov, followed as legends by crowds of fans all over the globe, could attract the youth and young generations.

As to the moral and ethical asset, I maintain that FIAS totally shares the values of the international Olympic movement. The International SAMBO Federation of course goes further by recognising its chance and responsibility not only to grow interest in sports worldwide, but also to support society and the environment through sustainable development goals, and this could be an opportunity to share our experience and best practice in this field.

6. SAMBO has its own story within The World Games history. Do you have any memories of performing at the World Games of 1985 and 1993?

Vasily Shestakov: I thank you for mentioning the fact that SAMBO has already been part of The World Games. It was a very interesting and rewarding experience for our athletes and our federation. We keep the warmest memories of those unforgettable moments. Many of the participants are now leading persons in the National Federations.

7. How do you compare the World Games to other multi-sport events?

Vasily Shestakov: We consider participation in every multi-sport event as highly important. In recent years, SAMBO was included in the programme of the European Games, the Asian Games in 2018, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 2017, and the Central American Games in 2017. SAMBO also featured in the Universiade in Kazan in 2013, and was included in the official programme of the World Combat Games in 2010 and 2013. But despite the significance of these competitions, we highly appreciate the inclusion of FIAS in the International World Games Association. The importance of this event for the entire SAMBO community cannot be overestimated.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.