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:

MMA fighter Pongsiri Mitsatit helps rescue Thai football team trapped in cave

Pongsiri Mitsatit
Pongsiri Mitsatit

The successful rescue of the 12 young members of a soccer team and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand was a collaborative effort of volunteers from around the world. One of the volunteer rescuers was Thai mixed martial artist Pongsiri Mitsatit, 22.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be able to help find these kids alive,” Mitsatit said. “It didn’t matter if I was in training for a big fight. I wanted to do everything I could to help those boys.”

“This was bigger than everything else,” the Thai fighter added. “The British divers saw them first and sent back photos and videos, I was so relieved. Just seeing them alive and well, it makes my heart feel full.”

An undefeated MMA fighter, Mitsatit knows what it is like to face adversity. He has been competing in ONE Championship since 2016 and he is now holding a professional MMA record of 9 wins and 0 loss.

Widely considered one of the fastest rising stars in the world of martial arts, Pongsiri had much to lose in risking his life but he would not have had it any other way. He shared, “When we are given the ability to help others who are in dire need, we must do everything we can.”

“It doesn’t matter whether we are rich or poor,” Mitsatit said. “We do what we can.”

“In my mind, I wanted to find those kids as soon as possible,” the undefeated Thai MMA fighter added. “Then to see them strong and doing well, it motivates me to be as strong as them.”

On July 10, 2018, rescue operations concluded, as teams worked round the clock to rescue the victims at the soonest possible time. All 12 boys and their coach are well and in good spirits after being airlifted to the nearest hospital as soon as they got out of the cave.

Mitsatit’s role in rescue operations has concluded but he is more than willing to offer more help if need be. He said, “I would do anything if it meant saving those boys.”

After helping in a successful rescue operation, Mitsatit will return to the cage and put his unblemished professional MMA record on the line. On July 27, 2018, he will compete at “ONE: Reign of Kings” against Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, 22, of the Philippines in the strawweight division at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Learn more about Mitsatit’s experience in rescuing the soccer team in Thailand on Conan Daily. Meanwhile, watch a live coverage of the successful Thai cave rescue here:

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