From a twenty year old's £20 start up through to the multi-award winning powerhouse Social Enterprise in less than 10 years.
The success of our organisation is the epitome of the capabilities of martial arts itself. Founded with just £20 of capital by a then unknown twenty year-old, the BMABA was back in 2012 unrecognisable to our current form.
Giovanni Soffietto, the now award-winning social entrepreneur behind our Group was born in 1991, in the South West of England. Born into a hard working family – like 70% of children growing up in poverty – despite both his Mother and Father working long hours, it simply wasn’t enough to keep food on the table and electric in the meters. Martial arts proved the only consistent outlet for Giovanni. Whilst he may have had to work part time unloading grocery trucks before school and serving fruit and veg after school and at weekends from the age of twelve to pay for his own training, martial arts delivered. Resilience, self-discipline, motivation and vision; a real-life, lived example of what our industry can provide those from even the most desperate backgrounds and circumstances.
Giovanni trained in Shotokan Karate initially, moving through Judo and into Jujitsu throughout his childhood. In his early teen years, introduced by a close friend, Giovanni discovered Muay Thai Boxing, Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Training at a 'back-street' and very much unregulated club Giovanni saw the very best and worst the industry has to offer. Within five years of first entering the gym, Giovanni was the keyholder and licensed owner.
His entrepreneurial flare exceeded martial arts instruction with sights set on something bigger. Discouraged by the hugely prohibitive costs associated with many governing bodies and associations at the time, without any real 'return on investment' in terms of service, professionalism, insurance or support - Giovanni believed something better could and must be done.
This led to the initial creation of the British Martial Arts & Boxing Association. Armed with just £20 - £4.99 of which was spent on a domain name (bmaba.com), something game-changing was in its early infancy.
Over the coming years, the BMABA swelled in size and reputation. Becoming constantly more focused on standards, governance and regulation to promote the grass roots participation across 150 styles of martial arts and combat, the BMABA went from strength to strength. Now known as the organisation of choice for professional clubs and instructors, it marked an award-winning start to the Group's growth. The Association remains a flagship part of our network, now bolstered and supported by a growing number of well known, influential and crucial organisations. Giovanni's investment in a domain name, and the refurbished laptop and blackberry purchased on a £20 phone-contract to build the site on, has now developed into an award winning powerhouse of organisations, charitable initiatives and social enterprises.
We now have dedicated staff and offices, reach more than 100,000 per year via our group of social enterprises and are on-track to make a lasting and substantial impact to the UK martial arts industry.