Combat Sports

MMA star Rika Ishige thanks Thai cave rescue heroes

Chatri Sityodtong, Rika Ishige

Chatri Sityodtong, Rika Ishige

One of the best world news broke on July 10, 2018 when the Thai cave rescue was confirmed to be successful. Thai-Japanese mixed martial artist Rika “Tiny Doll” Ishige, 29, was one of those who expressed gratitude to the heroes behind the successful rescue.

“I want to say thank you to the rescue team for safely getting the children from the Wild Boars football club out of the Tham Luang cave,” Ishige said. “I wish them a speedy recovery mentally and physically.”

On June 23, 2018, 12 members of the junior soccer team Wild Boars entered the Tham Luang Non, a cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, namely Peerapat Sompiangjai, 17, Pornchai Kamluang, 16, Pipat Pho, 15, Prajak Sutham, 15, Adul Sam-on, 14, Ekarat Wongsukchan, 14, Nattawut Takamrong, 14, Mongkol Booneiam, 13, Somepong Jaiwong, 13, Duganpet Promtep, 13, Panumas Sangdee, 13, and Chanin Vibulrungruang, 11. They were with their 25-year-old assistant coach Ekapol Chantawong, who is also a former monk.

Heavy rains poured and partially flooded the cave, trapping the soccer team for several days. A British diving team found the 12 boys and their assistant coach alive on July 2, 2018 but extracting them out of the cave was extremely dangerous.

More than 1,000 people helped in the rescue operation including the Thai Navy SEALs. There were also volunteers from Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Former Thai Navy SEAL petty officer first class Saman Kunan, 38, a security officer at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, volunteered to help with the rescue operation. However, while delivering supplies to Tham Luang Non on July 6, 2018, he died of asphyxiation.

The Wild Boars soccer team members and their assistant coach were extracted from the cave in three batches. Four people were successfully rescued per day from July 8-10, 2018.

As a token, ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, 47, has invited the 12 Wild Boars players and their assistant coach and the rescuers to attend “ONE: Kingdom of Heroes” as his special guests. Scheduled on October 6, 2018, it is the next ONE Championship event in Bangkok.

Like Sityodtong, Ishige is Thai-Japanese. Fighting out of Bangkok, she is one of the hometown heroes to compete at “ONE: Kingdom of Heroes,” which marks her sixth bout in ONE Championship.

Here is Ishige thanking the heroes behind the successful Thai cave rescue:

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